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A few days before Catie died, I came to the traumatic realization that she would be better off with Jesus than clinging to her painful life. I had always prayed for a miracle, and never doubted that God could heal her, but it became evident that God had other plans for Catie, for me, and our family. 

I wanted my daughter back to normal. I wanted my life back to normal. I wanted my dreams to come true for her and our family. But the longer she hung on the more miserable she became. And the more I needed to let go of her and my desires for life the way it had been before leukemia.  

As significant as that moment was in my life, it was not a one-and-done experience. I have had to let her go numerous times over the years. And I’ve had to let go of other hopes and dreams as well. 

Second Samuel records a very puzzling story. The Philistines have David surrounded. He and his men seem to be outnumbered and in a terrible predicament. We have the benefit of knowing there is a happy ending, but for David and his soldiers, life was hanging in the balance.  

While in this dangerous quandary, David thought back to his childhood, to the carefree days as a shepherd boy in the hills outside Bethlehem. He just wanted his life to go back to normal.  

The Bible records, “David longed for water and said, "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!" So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD.” (2 Samuel 23:15-16) 

If I was one of those men, I would have been dumbfounded. We risked our lives to get that water, and you poured it out!? 

David was not disrespecting the valor of his three friends nor was he being flippant with their courageous act of love. He was powerfully saying goodbye to the past.  

David grew up around the well just outside Bethlehem. His boyhood innocence, childhood friends, family support, and personal security were all tied to that well. “Oh, for the good old days,” thought David, as he surveyed the Philistine forces surrounding him that were threatening his life and his nation’s welfare.  

He just wanted things to be back to normal. He wanted the good life he had left behind. He wanted life to return to the way he remembered it. He wanted the peace and security of how things were: "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!"  

In that moment, David realized that his desire for the good old days was dangerous in two ways. First, it was distracting him from the current reality and responsibilities. His dreaming about bygone days would not help him against the Philistines. Time and energy spent longing for the past could be better spent devising an escape plan and a counterattack.  

Second, it was not fair to the people around him. David’s selfish desire for the past put those closest to him in danger. By pouring out the water, David poured out his past. He let go of his longing for the good old days and moved on. 

We cannot unscramble the egg. Relationships are broken, fortunes lost, health ruined, opportunities missed, jobs terminated, and so much more. Guilt, shame, anger, regret, bitterness, frustration are all parts of our pasts. Whatever might be your well near the Gate of Bethlehem, pour it out. Let it go.  

The past is real; we must evaluate, process, learn, and grow from our pain. But we must move on. There are new Philistines to fight today, new dangers and challenges that we must face. And there are people close to us who will risk their lives to help us. We must honor their allegiance not abuse their loyalty.  

We cannot go back. Like David, we must pour out the past, love the mighty warriors in our lives, and together, face the Philistines we encounter today.

Dan Bolin


Refueling in Flight Ministries, Inc


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