Raising my Ebenezer

I’m reposting from my archives today. 

I’ve always loved the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. Tears come to my eyes every time I sing the phrase “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”. But right now a different stanza strikes me: “Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by thy help I come”. I’ve never understood that line, and even though someone told me once upon a time what an ebenezer was, it didn’t mean much. But it does now.

In 1 Sam 7:9-14, Samuel is sacrificing offerings to the Lord on behalf of Israel. While they’re gathered, the Philistines come, ready to attack. God, in a way only God can, throws the Philistines into confusion and the Israelites end up chasing them down and defeating them. They return, and in gratitude and hope, place a stone on the battle field that Samuel calls “Ebenezer”– meaning the Lord has helped us.

I was explaining to a friend this week how God’s been working in my heart; delivering me from some crap and gently leading me to repentance & rest. I told her I felt like God had lightened my heart. Not just changed my mood or circumstances or took away a burden, but actually lightened my heart (which, for those of you who know me and know my struggles with depression, a light heart is a huge deal). The next day, she sent me this quote by Kathleen Norris from a chapter entitled “My Ebenezer”:

There is a powerful moment in any religious conversion, in which a person realizes that all of the mentors, and all that they have said, all of the time spent in reading scripture, or engaged in what felt like stupid, boring, or plain hopeless prayer, has been of help after all. It is nothing you have done, but all of it is one event, God’s being there, and being of help. The enemies you were facing, whatever obstacles seemed amassed against you, even your own confusion, have simply vanished. And you are certain that it is God who has brought you to this moment, which may even feel like victory.

For this ever searching, sometimes too intense individual, a light heart, given by Him, is victory indeed!

So, on this day of Thanksgiving, I pray you’ll reflect on the myriad of ways He’s been your help and deliverer and raise your own Ebenezer to the only One worthy.

I wrote this piece in 2008.  So much life has transpired in the last five years: quitting my business,   changing jobs (x2), children leaving home (x2), and parents passing away (x2) , plus regular everyday life.  I’m thankful life happens over time and not all at once because it can be daunting to process it all.  And although I can’t say my heart feels very light this year– as we miss my Dad at the table– I can still raise my Ebenezer and boldly proclaim “The Lord has helped us!”


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