Broad Places

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Genesis 26:19-22 gives the account of Isaac’s herdsmen quarreling with the Philistines over some wells he had dug. He named those wells “Esek,” or “Dispute,” and “Sitnah,” or “Opposition.”  When he finally dug a well that they didn’t quarrel over, he named it “Rehoboth.”  One might logically suppose that this name means something like “peace,” but it doesn’t.  It means “room.”  After he named it, he said, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

This brings to mind two thoughts — one is that sometimes you move on from battles instead of trying to win them.  It’s better for everyone that way, even though you may be giving up some of your “rights” in doing so.

The other is that open spaces seem to be symbolic of blessing and prosperity in Scripture.  Why is this?  Why does Jabez, in 1 Chron. 4:10, ask for his boundaries to be enlarged?  Why do Psalm 18:19 and 31:8 and Job 36:6 use the image of “broad” places to symbolize rescue, deliverance and prosperity?

According to Isaac, when we have room, we can prosper.  The point to him in digging the well wasn’t that he had outwitted his opponents.  It was that he had room to flourish.  Herds need room — more room than just what they can stand in.  They need to move around.  Apparently, so do we.

Which brought me to the conclusion that when we hem ourselves in with self-inflicted boundaries, we prevent our own growth. Narrow thinking, disbelief, strongholds of misunderstanding, ignorance or offense, unforgiveness, pride and stubbornness, instead of being the walls that protect us from harm, become the straight-jacket that keeps us mired in our misery. We become our own opposing herdsmen, fighting with ourselves over things from our past that simply need to be acknowledged, named and then left behind. We need to move forward into wide open spaces.

When we leave behind the contention we can open our hearts and minds to the possibility that God’s view of our lives is much farther reaching than we can imagine. We see that He wants only our good, only to bless us and to allow us to participate in the work He is doing.  We see that He has prepared good works in advance for us to do and that those works might very well lie in an area into which we have never ventured before.  When we live in the freedom of trusting Him to protect us, to deal with our past, to handle the things over which we have no control, then we start to see how much room we have to move.  Then He can truly prosper us.  Then He causes His life to spring up within us and flow out of us.  And then we understand the value of accepting his daily bread, His “now-blessing,” rather than reaching for something that may not be His plan for us and may not be worth fighting over in the first place.

He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:19

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