Wells You Did Not Dig

When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Deuteronomy 6:10-12 NIV

When the Hebrew children entered the Promised Land, they took cities they did not build and wells they did not dig.
The Pilgrims did not forget the God of the Bible and His promises to provide through a land they did not build and wells they did not dig.

Like the Hebrew children of old, our nation’s forefathers arrived on the shores of this great land knowing not what they would find nor what the future held but in Whose Hand their future rested. I imagine among the Pilgrims’ devotions was the 6th Chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy which contains the great Shema, recited by Hebrew children of God for millennia, as well as The Greatest Commandment for followers of Christ:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:4,5

Faith like our forefathers’ was required for the dire circumstances that overtook them: starvation, exposure, illness, and death. Yet survivors who held their persistent faith in firm grasps birthed legacies for their offspring who in due time created a government based on a Constitution rooted in God’s natural law of personal freedom.    

That kind of legacy has been handed down in my family.

Hancock_George_circa 1915
Great-Grandpa George Hancock left his descendants wells they did not dig.

I never knew my great-grandfather, George Eben Hancock, but I knew well his daughter, my grandmother Ona Mae Hancock Brooks. He left his mark on Grandmother. He was the song leader at the Liberty Missionary Baptist Church near Memphis, Texas, and she sang alto in the strongest voice and with the truest tone I ever heard. He defended the Gospel like a guard dog, and Grandmother did the same. From 1917_LibertyMissionaryBaptist_Hancock-Georgehim she learned to make-do with what she had, to put hearty, home-grown fare on the table, to bake bread, and to make stubborn soil produce three meals a day for her siblings.

Grandmother watched her father make a life as a single parent on a farm where the sun baked and the wind chapped and the soil demanded a will of iron. (Tweet That!)

Great-Grandpa’s wife, my great-grandmother Ida Leora McFarland Hancock, suffered from a form of mental illness described at the time as “intermittent mania.” Probably bipolar disorder, a condition that could be treated today but in 1900 it resulted in commitment to a mental asylum. In Great-Grandma Ida’s case, the commitment lasted 48 years.

Great-Grandpa George left a legacy of faithfulness to his family, a well from which they could forever draw.

Ida’s daughter Ona was 11 years old when her mother went away and never returned. As the eldest of four children, Grandmother took on the household duties and helped her father rear her three siblings. She grew up as a strong woman overnight. (Tweet That!)

When he arrived on the High Plains of Texas, Great-Grandpa George knew he must not forget God, so he dug a well of faithfulness.

To be near his wife in the asylum in Kaufman County, Texas, Great-Grandpa George moved with his children from Oklahoma to a farm in Wise County, Texas. But when Great-Grandma Ida’s condition remained untenable, Great-Grandpa George struck out from Wise County to make a new life Hancock-plowfor his four children. He settled in Hall County on the High Plains of Texas where the air was dry, the temperatures scalding, and the soil composed of stubborn sand. (Tweet That!)

Great-Grandpa George’s descendants still draw from a well they did not dig.

First order of business: water. Near the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, he located the spot and began to dig. 

Great-Grandpa’s well flows today, well over 100 years after he dug it in the hot, sandy soil of the Texas Panhandle. His descendants still farm the land and, like the Hebrew children of old, draw water from a well their forebearer dug. 

May we each leave a legacy of faith as a well from which our descendants may draw.

As George Hancock’s descendant, I’m most grateful for the well of faithfulness he dug. He did not forget the Lord as he guided four children to adulthood with no his wife beside him. I’m proud his name is carved into the church plaque as the song leader. His legacy lives on in great-grandsons who have followed in his footsteps. 

Dear Lord, only You are good. We can only strive to be like You. We long to leave legacies that live well beyond our years, but we can’t do it without You. Don’t let us forget You who has brought us out of the curse of sin, and bless us with wells of faith we can leave our children and grandchildren. For Jesus’ sake …

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What’s so Great About Freedom to Write?


Writing the historical novel The Calling of Ella McFarland has taken me into the past many times over.

In 1983 when “The Wall” still divided East from West, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit East Germany where I bought this band of little angels with IMG_2075“green spotted wings”. It was made by an East German artisan who worked in her home, longing for freedom.

Among the freedoms denied East Germans in 1983 was freedom of speech. Had I lived beyond The Wall in those days, I would not have enjoyed the freedom to express myself as I am in this blog. The freedom to write what I please, to express my faith and values, opens doors and windows to the world, airing out ideas like winter’s mothballed coat.

green-boa-244768_1280Jehovah God has always set a high price on freedom. Adam and Eve were denied access to one tree alone; their rebellion locked them out of Paradise. [Genesis 3:23-24]

The Israelites were denied access to the Promised Land for their ingratitude. [Numbers 14:21-23]

tree-189158_1280And for his momentary disobedience Moses was allowed only to view the land of promise, not enter it. [Numbers 20:12]

The angel of the Lord slew 185,000 Assyrians to assure the freedom of God’s people. [2 Kings 19:35]

The Old Testament is replete with the tragic stories of God’s people being taken into bondage for their faithlessness. 

The highest price ever paid for freedom was the life of God’s own Son. [Galatians 5:1] jesus-578217_1280

I treasure my band of little angels because it represents the original angels’ announcement of the birth of the Savior whose eventual death provided a new kind of freedom–a way out of the bondage of eternal consequences for sin. But for me the little angelic band also represents my freedom to write. The Apostle Paul wrote in a dungeon; I write in a comfortable office.

fire-836635_1280First Century Christians risked their lives to protect and transmit the writings that now compose Holy Scripture. William Tyndale, among others, gave his life for translating the Latin Scriptures into English and refusing to be silenced. Many Christians in the world risk the same today. Meanwhile, I can’t keep up with all the dusting required for the dozens of Bibles in my home.

The painstaking, labor-intensive process of printing that began with Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press in Germany testifies to the preciousness of the written word.

Thankfully, the U.S. Constitution guarantees its citizens the right to free expression of viewpoints and faith, including my right to express my faith in written form. I exercise that right while sitting in a comfortable office chair imagining plot lines driven by flawed characters both espousing and defaming the name of Christ.

chinese-675456_1280What’s so great about the freedom to write? Ask Paris. Or Christians in China, Iran … or any spot on Earth controlled by ISIS.

Do you have a “freedom of speech” or “freedom to write” story to share? I’d love to hear it.

All praise to our Savior who is the Lord!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.   

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:4-18

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