1 Samuel 7:12, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
Growing up in the Church had its good points and bad points. The church in particular that my family attended was definitely an independent, fundamental conservative church. That’s not a bad thing. One of the things that goes along with churches like mine is hymns. That’s all we would sing. Back then I certainly did not have a deep appreciation for hymns, but as I learn more about the Bible and grow in my faith, I have come to love the richness that is found in many hymns.
In particular, the hymn Come Thou Fount has become an anthem for my life in recent years. When I was younger, I never understood the second verse. There is a line that says, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come.” No one ever knew what an “Ebenezer” is. But we sang it anyway. Come to find out that after all these years, Ebenezer is a memorial stone erected by Samuel to mark where God helped Israel to defeat the Philistines – north of Jerusalem. It means, “Up to here the LORD has helped us.”
What was so amazing about this battle is that Israel had been deeply ensnared in idolatry, yet God had delivered her from a great struggle. This is a beautiful picture of how great God’s love is for His people. He did not chose the perfect and the strong to represent Him. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.” Weak vessels are chosen so that God might demonstrate His strength to the nations.
Not much has changed since then. God still choses the weak so that He can do great things in them and receive the glory. Because we know this, we need to look at our circumstances and struggles in a different way. Every trial, temptation and tough time in life is an Ebenezer where we have an opportunity to witness God’s help.
To see God working does not need to be in grand moments. For example, today we finally sold our washer and dryer. This might not seem like a big deal, but really it is a simple Ebenezer, a stone erected in my life, that helps me to remember the greatness of God. Because our washer and dryer sold, I no longer have the stress of worrying about it. It also provided money that we need. Another stone of the faithfulness of God is the fact that we moved on campus at DTS. It is a better environment to raise our son in; it is a better place for me to study; it is better for our sleep; there is less stress. We are so thankful to be where we are. These are both almost silly examples, but they are small reminders that will be foundational for when bigger trials come.
What is most amazing is that my life continues to be blessed in the middle of my weaknesses. I am not a perfect guy. I have struggles with anger, worrying, lust, jealousy and other problems at times. Hopefully each of these struggles will become less and less as I get older, but nonetheless, what I am trying to demonstrate is that I am just as unfaithful as any other except for the grace of God that keeps me from doing these things regularly. While they do not control me, in my weakest of flesh, they are there. I am no greater than His people Israel. Yet God still pursues me while I am weak with a heart that is prone to wander from allegiance to Him!
One of the greatest things we can do is that thing that grandma always told me, “Count your blessings.” Just like the hymn, Count Your Blessings, we should count them and name them one by one and see what the Lord has done. When we are attune to the blessings in our life, we will find a mountain of Ebenezers for our wandering hearts! How has God blessed you recently? What can you look back on in your life as strength for the moments when you struggle the most? These are God’s Ebenezer’s for you so that you would know Him and trust Him more!