As a steward of God’s Word, the Word has to comfort and confront me before I preach it. About this time last year – around the year anniversary of when my father left for his eternal home – I was preparing a sermon entitled “A Well-Dug Legacy.” The Word woven into this sermon dug a well of healing in me that I needed after the loss of papa.
“A Well-Dug Legacy” is rooted in Genesis 26 during a drought in the Promised Land. It’s against this backdrop, that the Lord instructs Isaac to stay and dwell in that land and declares the same promise of Isaac that was declared over his father, Abraham. Under the bright shadow of Abraham’s legacy, the Lord blesses Isaac so much that he has to leave the town he settled in and sojourn throughout the Promised Land. His journey begins by re-digging the wells of his father.
And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. [Genesis 26:18]
As I studied and meditated on these words, they began to dig deeply into me. The unique thing about the Bible is that because it’s living and active, it has an incredible power to reach into you and transform you when you read it through the lens of the Spirit. And as I read it, I began thinking about my father’s wells. I thought about the marks that papa left. I thought about the bright shadow of his legacy that I have the privilege to live under and to continue.
I’ve never known anyone who loved the Word of God like Papa. He loved to learn it, to teach it, to talk about it, and to live it. His whole life was a life devoted to conforming to the ways of God woven into His Word. Papa taught the principles of Scripture in every conversation and every interaction. The Bible didn’t even have to be open for the Word of God to be palpable with every breath he exhaled. The marks of the living Word were left everywhere, because of the way he lived. And if you had the opportunity to know him, he inspired you to love and live God’s Word.
I never anticipated that God would grace me with the gift of preaching and teaching. I used to wrestle with this, as we often do because of the scandalous nature of grace. But as God’s word for me in “A Well-Dug Legacy” continued to dig into my soul, I sensed the healing power and sufficiency of grace spring up fresh living water in me. Living water from a well dug inside of me by my father. The living water of God’s Word and the calling to steward His Word.
As Isaac’s story continues in Genesis 26, he follows the marks of the wells his father dug, he digs new wells, he confronts adversity, and ultimately comes to a place called Rehoboth. The name Rehoboth means “broad places” or “room” and when Isaac gets there he declares the Lord has made room for us to be fruitful. I imagine after all this time of journeying throughout the Land, Isaac was overjoyed to finally be able to rest.
But in the very next verse, the story tells us that he went up to Beersheba.
I don’t know why Isaac went up to Beersheba. Why would Isaac leave a place of comfort? I wonder as Isaac was tracing the marks of his father through the pattern of the wells he re-dug, if he began to see that just beyond the place of comfort – Rehoboth – was a place of faith – Beersheba. Beersheba was the city that Abraham and Isaac settled in immediately following Abraham surrender of Isaac in sacrifice to God (where Abraham nearly kill Isaac). Beersheba is the place where Abraham’s faith in God’s word took root. Beersheba is the place where Isaac saw and learned the faith of his father. So in Genesis 26, Isaac leaves a place of his own comfort to continue the well-dug legacy of faith that his father began.
I began to see my own story woven into the words of Scripture and was filled with this sense of the opportunity that God has given me…an opportunity to move beyond the place of my own comfort and into a life of a well-dug legacy of teaching God’s Word.
My mom says the last time papa heard me preach, he leaned over to her and said, “She’s better than me.”
Legacy doesn’t just leave a mark; legacy leaves the right mark. The right marks of legacy are found in the deeply dug wells of people who have continued the faith movement that God started in the beginning. The right marks of legacy are well-dug into us by the fathers, the mothers, and those communities of faith. They dig faith wells in a way that gives us an opportunity to find healing and inspiration through re-digging them and continuing the faith movement. They dig in such way that when we seize the opportunity to live a well-dug legacy, they can proudly say: “They’re digging better than me.”
This Thursday, December 8, will be the second anniversary of Papa’s heavenly birthday. I know that the wells of his legacy were dug into so many people who are continuing the faith movement and know that he would proudly say, “They’re digging better than me.”
A huge part of his well-dug legacy of teaching God’s Word was an overflow of generosity towards others. For Papa, teaching the Word of God meant conforming to the Word of God and all throughout Scripture we see God’s abundant generosity. When you live out God’s Word, you can’t help but be generous. Papa was generous with his time, resources, listening ear, advice, and love.
Would you stand alongside our family this week and celebrate Papa by living out the Word of God in the form of generosity towards someone?
In the tension together,