Genesis 26:17-18: Re-opening wells.
“17 So Isaac moved away from there and camped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.” NIV UK
We should read church history not just for information, but also for inspiration: to allow it to stir our hearts and pray that the best of the past may be experienced again in the present. Recently, I have been re-visiting some of the history of early Pentecostalism, as I have been reading a new biography of George Jeffreys, the founder of the ‘Elim’ Pentecostal denomination. He was a dynamic evangelist (and apostle, I believe). Thousands of people came to faith in Christ through his preaching; multitudes were miraculously healed; numerous new churches were ‘planted’ – many of which are still flourishing today. I have studied the history of Pentecostalism before, but reading this book has taught me things I didn’t know, as well as giving me reminders of what I already knew. God was powerfully at work through George Jeffreys, and many other people at that time. ’Wells’ of fresh water, you might say, were being dug. But it does not all make for edifying reading. The friend who kindly gave me the biography, warned me that I would feel sad about the end of the story. The book does demonstrate, sadly, that ‘the best of men are men at best.’ You could say that ‘’the Philistines’’ came and filled the wells with dirt. I mean to say that some very fine things got spoiled, in a way, and I can only feel that our diabolical opponent had an influence on what happened.
But more than anything, reading the story makes me want to re-dig those ancient wells our fathers drank from. No, I know we can’t pour out the Holy Spirit on ourselves. That is Jesus’ work alone. But I believe we can position ourselves to receive, as our Pentecostal forbears did, when they earnestly sought this outpouring. How hungry are we though? How thirsty?
One day I was praying in my little study at the bottom of the garden. Outside, it was pouring with rain. I suddenly thought, ‘If I wanted to become soaked, all I would need to do would be to stand outside with no protection. I would soon be saturated.’
If you want to have a soaking, spiritually-speaking, you can position yourself to do so. Will you?
‘We are, at this moment, as close to God as we really choose to be.’ J.O. Sanders.