– Proverbs 20:5
Water is second only to air in our list of physical needs. Our body is made up of 70% water, and without it we will die in a matter of days. There have been stories of small wars fought over water rights. People have been shot and killed for stopping up a river.
Living here in Northern Michigan, we are desensitized to the importance of water because it is everywhere. I have heard it said that in the state of Michigan, you are never more than 5 miles from some body of water whether it is a stream, creek, pond, lake, swamp, river or spring. It gets pretty easy to lose our hold on how important it is and how hard it is for some people to get hold of it. There are many places where water flows, but then disappears during a dry season. Rivers, lakes and streams just dry up and leave the area without any source of hydration for plant or animal life.
In those dry and arid climates, you need to have a deep water source. A place you can go to when you are thirsty that will not go dry. It gives security. It often leads to a community as people will congregate around a source of water (they don’t call them water cooler conversations for nothing).
As I read this verse the other day I was brought back to it several times. There is some very significant truth here, and I wanted to pass it on.
Purpose – the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used
What do I want to be? What is my purpose? This verse says that my purpose is like deep water. It is that well that I can go back to time and again when the droughts in my life are wearing thin. By reflecting on that purpose I am energized. I get direction. I get encouraged that I can make it another day! My purpose in life is that important! If I lack purpose I will flounder, and I have done that too often.
Over the last couple of years I have been actively searching for my purpose. It is not a “what I want to do” thing, but a “what I want to be” thing. I want to be a man that loves God and is directed by Him! I want to be a man that is close to God. I want to be a man who loves and leads his family. I want to be a man who encourages and helps others do the same thing! When the discouraging times have hit in recent months I have been able to bounce out of them faster by going to that purpose and dinking deeply.
Another thing that struck me was that you could read that verse as one man or as two men. If you read it as one man I think it is possible – since all things are possible with God at work in them – but is it as likely? I don’t think so. Why? Because it is hard! Unless you have an extreme will to dig and keep going, you will eventually tire if you go it alone.
I see it more as a two man thing. The man mentioned in the first half of the verse has a purpose, but he has not tasted it yet. He knows he has a need, but is unclear how to get to it. That is the importance of the second man – the man of understanding. The second man has been to the well. He has tasted the water, and he now sees people that have that need and wants to help them taste it as well.
For me I have spent most of my life trying to figure out what I was going to do for God. I fell into the trap of spiritual busywork. If I do enough things for God I will eventually do the right thing for God, and if I do the right thing for God, then He will be happy with me. How did that work for me? Well, it led to a Christian that was burnt out and discouraged by those he saw in the church. Was it all their fault? Not all of the time. I had a large part in it because I was basing everything on my performance. It was the frantic searching of a thirsty man.
It takes someone who understands that feeling to recognize it for what it really is. A search for purpose. When the man of understanding looks at that frantic spirit he remembers the frustration, the doubts, the desperation, and he acts. He draws it out.
Draw – To cause to move in a given direction or to a given position, as by leading
When the second man enters the picture things start happening more quickly. I’m not going to say more easily, because the struggle will always be there. The second man comes alongside and shares himself, his struggles, his experiences in an effort to teach and encourage. The work continues to be hard, and there are always setbacks, but the man of understanding stays in the game because he understands the process and uses it to teach.
I thought it interesting when I looked up the definition of “draw” that one of the definitions not used often is “to disembowel”. This was funny for me as I have talked with my man of understanding about the process he has been working with me, and how at times it has felt like handing him a knife and asking for him to gut me like a fish. Gruesome description, but sometimes that is what it felt like!
So, as I look at the verse I see it as a circle. I am living my life right now as the first man, but I have now tasted my purpose. It gives me the drive to keep digging and guarding the well form those who would tamper with it. Now I am learning to be the second man. I want to be that man of understanding that can come alongside others and help them draw out their purpose.
It is discipleship, and real discipleship is relationship. It was modeled by God Himself in the garden when He walked and talked with Adam. Christ did the same with His 12 disciples, and more specifically with three of them. Engaging at the heart for transformation through exposure to the truth of God’s Word in transparent relationships.
So, what do you want to be? Have you been to the well?