Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord. -Genesis 13:18 (NAS)
Throughout his life, Abraham built his altars first, and then his wells. His son Isaac, however, built his wells, and then his altars. When Isaac settled in the valley of Gerar, he first dug out the wells of his father that the Philistines had filled with dirt. He ran into trouble when the wells produced water and local herdsmen tried to reclaim them.
So he spent a great deal of time trying to find a well to call his own, and then he built an altar to the Lord (Genesis 26). I wonder if Isaac would have had so much conflict over those wells if he had built the altar first.
In my own life, I see a whole lot of well-digging and not enough altar building. For example, I've just spent the last year trying to find a job in St. Louis, moving there, putting the groundwork into my job, finding a good part of town to live in, buying a more reliable car, and then searching for a church home.
Throughout this time, I wouldn't commit to a church until every other aspect of my life was settled and comfortable. I dug my wells and then built my altar. Consequently, I reversed the natural order. And consequently, I had to endure moments of hardship and loneliness that could have been eased had I been supported by my present church family.
Over and over in the Scriptures, whatever his circumstances, we find Abraham building his altar to the Lord. This man of God recognized that his spiritual duties were more important than his temporal tasks. It's a lesson I am working on in my life, as I learn to give priority to God's concerns instead of my own. God can make the well-digging a whole lot easier.
Dear God, remind us that while You can provide for our earthly needs, You desire our worship first and foremost. -Teresa Schantz