What’s In Your Well?

By Marcy Barthelette

You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11b

My husband has a keen interest in his family genealogy and within recent months has been traveling down many ancestral trails branching from his mother. He made an amazing discovery on one of his searches. His ninth great-grandfather, Jacques Archambault along with his family, migrated to Canada from France around 1645. Jacques had made a decent living as a wine-maker in France but seems to have made a hasty exit from his home, possibly to avoid religious persecution. In so doing, he became deeply indebted to the owner of the ship on which his family made passage and so he worked off his debt while living on the ship owner’s property. About the time he repaid his debt, colonists were needed to develop a nearby village, so Jacques moved his family there using funds provided by the governor with an assumed agreement that he would dig a community well for the new town. Jacques was known as a dowser, someone who believed he could locate underground water with the use of a forked stick or two separate sticks. In 1658 he reached an agreement as to the scope of the project and began his work. Completion of the well established his reputation in this new world and he was commissioned to dig more wells, but that first one is marked to this day, in the modern city of Montreal, with a plaque commending Jacques Archambault for his achievement. Ken was pretty excited to learn of this ancestor. (An interesting sidebar to this story is that anyone in the United States having an ancestor named Archambault can trace their roots to Jacques for he is the only Archambault who migrated from France to the US.)

The one common thread between all living things whether plant, animal, or human is the need for water to sustain life. Even people who have no source of clear, freshwater know that their bodies require hydration, so whatever the condition of their available water, they will drink. Without it, everything would wither and die, so it only follows that people in search of a new place to settle would have chosen to build homes and businesses near streams and natural springs where water was abundant. But population growth forced the development of land farther away from natural water sources and wells were dug to tap underground aqueducts and bring the necessary life-giving water to the surface. The Jezreel Valley of northern Israel is documented to have been the home of the first permanent water wells dug for human use. They date back to around 6500 BC.

Our Ozarks was a natural settlement choice of the early pioneers because of its many spring-fed, clear-running streams. Wells seemed unnecessary in this land where freshwater was plentiful. Free-flowing water was quickly harnessed to power sawmills and grain mills throughout our hills. It was already in use on the east coast for factory work of all sorts. Today’s hydroelectric power plants light our homes, and keep countless types of machinery, as well as technology, working throughout our nation. But even here, as more people migrated westward, wells became necessary to provide sufficient water.

By definition, a well is an issue of water from the earth or a pit sunk into the earth to reach a supply of water and as earlier stated, they existed well before Jesus’ time.

By chance or by divine intervention, Jesus once stopped at an established landmark in Samaria, named Jacob’s well. Jesus was hot and thirsty from his travel in the desert. Perhaps he even wanted to splash some cool water on his face. As he sat ….

A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.” The Samaritan woman asked, “Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” Jesus responded, “If you recognized God’s gift and who is saying to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would be asking him and he would give you living water. The woman said to him, “Sir, you don’t have a bucket and the well is deep. Where would you get this living water?” John 4:7-11

Each of us has a well within us, a well that houses our deepest desires, our thoughts, and our plans. The question is, what springs forth from our well? And when it runs dry, where do we go to replenish it with clear, fresh “water?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.” John 4:13-14  

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