Mom surprised me the other night with her quick response. It was nearing bedtime, I leaned forward in my chair, simply stating, "Well...." In quick retort, she spouted, "It is all wet inside there!" Ha! I didn't even know she knew the saying! You know the one I am talking about...someone says "Well" and you respond "It is all wet down there, and rocky, too!" Today's lesson is a "well" of a different sort.
Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within. (Proverbs 20:5 The Message)
So many times we look for answers to the question, "Is this right for me?" In trying to reason out the response, we sometimes find ourselves drawing from "the well" within - the knowledge we have "saved up" over time. It comes from having experienced things, storing up the "cause and effect" knowledge which comes from experience. For instance, we experience disappointment when the ice cream cone melts away while we are doddle in eating it down in the hot Arizona sun. The next time we purchase one, we might recall the knowledge we formed through the last experience - eating this one much quicker. This is knowledge formed on understanding the "cause and effect" principle - ice cream is only enjoyed if the sun doesn't melt it first!
Not every lesson we learn comes this easy, does it? We see a whole lot of "effect", but the "cause" is sometimes quite hidden (at least in our estimation). When this occurs, we might say we did not learn from past experience. We repeat the failure over and over again. In time, we might see a little link between cause and effect in our behavior, attitude, ability to resist temptation, etc. - but it comes at a cost we'd rather not have had to endure.
Our passage suggests knowing what is right is like deep water - stored up in the heart to be drawn upon when we need it. Let's break this down:
- A well is a storage or repository location, much in the same way God expects our hearts to be a storage or repository location for his wisdom. Knowledge only becomes wisdom when it is applied. In other words, we have to act upon what we know if it is to affect the "cause". The heart is really not the physical muscle of circulation in our body - it is the part of our brain which connects will and emotion to every action / reaction we exhibit. Therefore, every action or reaction is affected by what is stored deep within our "heart". Storage only occurs when there is regular and consistent input. A well is renewed when the rains collect - our hearts are renewed when the spirit "rains" afresh in our lives.
- A well is meant to be drawn from, to provide refreshment and renewal. No one draws from a well to just look at the water. The water drawn from the well is for a purpose - either we drink it, bathe in it, or use it to water something for future growth. God expects the knowledge we store up in our "wells" to be used much in the same way. We can find refreshing for our weary soul in the knowledge of his guidance and comfort in rough times. There is renewal which is brought to our mind, will and emotions when the knowledge is allowed to wash us and make us clean. The ability to produce further growth is only possible when what we already store up is used to further this growth.
- A well can be polluted, either through non-use or the introduction of something which has the power to "taint" the waters. Much in the same way, when knowledge is just taken in, never drawing it out, it becomes stagnant. The purpose of knowledge is found best in its use. When we allow "mixed" knowledge to affect us - the type which we don't test against the word of God to examine it for alignment / congruence - we might get a little "tainted" in our application of the knowledge. It might be applied - but when applied incorrectly, it has a "sour" effect.
Whether we use knowledge because we have come to possess it through experience, or simply as a result of some repeated failure, we are drawing from a well within. What's in your well? Is there sufficient drawing from that well to keep it from growing stagnant? Is there sufficient renewal of the well with a fresh input from the Spirit on a regular and consistent basis? Is the well as deep as it could be? Remember, you may "hit water" the first few feet you dig a well - but the most flavorful and purest of water oftentimes is found at the deepest point!