Isaac, the son of Abraham, was living in the land of the Philistine King Abimelech as his guest. If you think about it, Isaac was actually living in lands which had been promised to him and his people by the Lord through Covenant, but at this point, they belonged to others. These "others" were in many ways not worthy. They didn't fear the Lord, they lived with customs different than the early Hebrews, and, most importantly, the land was not theirs by birthright. Isaac found himself having to submit to the rule of a pagan ruler who did not know the Lord in lands that should have belonged to him.
At the same time, these lands were experiencing a drought. Scripture doesn’t go into detail about what was going on inside of Isaac’s head at this time, but as the head of a growing tribe, it's pretty safe to assume that water had to be one of the foremost thoughts in his mind.
However, before he could leave for other lands with more readily available water, the Lord appeared to him, saying, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you.”
So many times, we feel the truth of the fact that we are living in a land spiritual drought, surrounded by those who do not understand our walks. Our spirits long for the fresh water we need to sustain ourselves and our families, and it is not readily available to us. So we begin to look in other places, or to greener pastures.
But in this period of time when the natural inclination of Isaac is to flee to another land with more accessible water supplies, the Lord commands him to do exactly the opposite of what he would otherwise do--the Lord commands him to stay right where he is. Isaac can just obey, God promises him he will experience blessing. So we see Isaac weigh the promise of the Lord against the physical reality he sees before him...and Isaac chooses to act in accordance to his faith, not what he sees with his eyes. He obeys the Lord. He remains in a hostile, dry land.
In the same way, the Lord has planted us in the lands we find ourselves in, surrounded by those whom the Lord would call us to minister to, those who we sometimes feel do not understand us, those who do not fear our God, and whose traditions are counter to the lives which the Lord calls us to. Like Isaac, we face a dilemma: if we want to flourish, where do we find fresh water when we are living in dry lands?
Isaac had the answer. He looked to wells in the ground for water. There was no water to be had readily at hand, but there was water in the deep places of the earth, in the places where water had found long before. He found water in wells dug by his father, Abraham. So Isaac digs deep into the ground and avails himself of his father's handiwork. He looks to his heritage, to the work his father did, and finds that life-giving water he so desperately needs in order to sustain his household and his flocks.
As a result of his digging deep and heeding the word of the Lord, he rediscovers his heritage, and just as importantly, he experiences a “hundredfold” harvest from his crops. The Lord honors His promise. He prospers Isaac to the point that he actually begins to cause the Philistines to be jealous of him, and even to fear him.
In this modern age when the doctrines of the “Philistines” are affecting every aspect of our lives, and our modern, emotional, very fleshy society (and sometimes the church?) is in a drought, we need to look to the foundations laid down to us by our fathers. In our own A.T.M. church stream, that means that when we see the mainstream church embracing false ideas and humanist doctrines around us (without even touching what the world embraces), we look to the foundations of our stream--the apostolic headship, firm belief in scripture, and a reliance on the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. The wells that were dug in our apostolic movement are strong, they do not change on the whims of our society, and they can provide life to us when the modern state of the broader church can cause us to falter.
And at the end of the day, what is a well? Is it a person? Is it a specific doctrine? A leader? No. Doctrines, teachings, and leaders are wonderful tools, wonderful servants, but nothing more. The best part of wells is that even though they are dug by humans-- humans like Abraham, or Isaac, or even our own A.T.M. fathers--inside of a well, there is something magically un-human about them, right deep at their core. Humans dig the wells--our spiritual fathers dug the wells, and we dig wells--but that’s all they did, that's all we do--we dig.For all of the human effort that may go into to accessing a well, what is pulled forth from them comes solely from the Lord.
The water they contain and give forth is absolutely uncreated by men--and yet it sustained Isaac’s household thousands of years ago. In the same way, they give us life as well today. There is the component of digging, or re-digging, which we must undertake, an activation that we must allow to take place in our hearts to get the well flowing...but underneath the fount is the unchanging Spirit of the Living God, eternal, unchanging just under the surface of the Earth, waiting to be drawn forth.
That fount is outside of us. It is wholly separate from us, and is a living miracle. It's the Spirit of the Lord, and it is the answer to the false doctrines attempting to coerce us into bowing to their wills, and our answer for surviving the droughts as we sojourn through this life.