| More

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


One of my favorite songs is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”.  It’s an old hymn and its melody and poetic lyrics are deeply moving to me because of the nostalgia it produces in me--memories of singing this song with my family in church as a little girl--but also because of what the words have come to mean to me in adulthood.  Here is one of the verses:

“Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.”
The word "Ebenezer" is not one that comes up in everyday speech much.  It reminds me of a grumpy old man who hates Christmas.  :) But Webster’s Dictionary calls says that an Ebenezer is “a commemoration of divine assistance”.  I love that description.  In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel erected a stone in the ground to serve as a remembrance of deliverance God gave the nation of Israel in their time of great need. He called the stone an “Ebenezer”.

We need remembrances.  Our hearts so quickly forget.  There are times in our lives when it feels like God has “gone dark”….when trials come, when doors close, when the people we love put a dagger in our backs and walk away, when we struggle to overcome, when our strength and resources are depleted, when we cannot hear the voice of God... 

Yes, Christians have these feelings.
Although He knew the glory that awaited Him and that awaits us, Jesus Himself experienced these feelings on earth, crying out at the cross to God the Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is Jesus, God the Son, about whom the Bible says, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Right before He went to the cross, Jesus told his disciples in John 16:

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” …20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you… Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8 also compares this life to childbirth—we are in the midst of the groaning and pain, awaiting the new life for which the pain was worthwhile.
But while we are in this childbirth, we need our Ebenezers as a reminder that we are not alone…that God helps us...that God is with us and for us…that although we do not see His hand, He is still steering this ship… that yes, in the world we will have tribulation, but He has overcome the world.
What are your Ebenezers?  This blog is an Ebenezer of mine.  Just today I was feeling discouraged and started reading my 37th Birthday post (written Aug 17) where I wrote down the things that God is teaching me in this season of life.  It encouraged me.  It reminded me, “Oh, yeah”.  This is what I believe!  I truly do.
When my husband Kristian first encountered God’s love—love that is not self serving but rather sacrifices for the other, love that is invested, love that delights, love that doesn’t give up, love that does not return cursing for cursing—his life was forever changed by that love.  He had never seen this kind of love.  God’s love captured his heart and gave him new life.  In this process, Kristian experienced acceptance and freedom like he never knew.  A new passion stirred within Him.  It was beautiful to watch.  In those days, I gave him a Bible in which I wrote: “When in doubt, go back to your first love.”  In our life together, trials and questions have come, causing confusion and disillusionment at times.  The answer for both of us is still the same: “When in doubt, go back to your first love.”

Here I raise my Ebenezer.  Lord, help me to remember what is right and true.  Help me to hold on to truth when I am tempted to despair.  Remind me that this life is a journey that will end in glory. We will be home. As Psalm 30 puts it, there is weeping in the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Romans 8:8 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Walking Wounded

We live in a broken world.  If you turn on the nightly news, it is pretty hard to argue with this statement.  Every day brings news of new tragedies and atrocities. If you have ever been in a family, had any friends, attended any school, worked in any environment, or had any human interaction of any kind, chances are that you have hurt and been hurt by others.  Even if it was possible to avoid all human contact, nature itself inflicts harm—natural disaster strikes, weather causes accidents, the sun burns us, gravity causes us to fall, etc.  Whether we admit it or not, life is full of wounds that we inflict on ourselves, that others inflict on us, and that come to us through nature itself.  While it is true that some people are more “thick-skinned” than others, no one is invincible.  We can ignore our woundedness by charging onward in life. We can surround ourselves with “positive thinking”.  We can act like we do not have emotions. We can distract ourselves through all sorts of pursuits (pleasure, the path to success, our routines, even serving others, etc). We can shut our eyes to the deep questions of life.  But none of these things solve our problem. 

It’s like we have been in a terrible car accident.  There is glass shrapnel lodged into our right arm.  We walk out of the car and resume our normal lives.  Maybe we don’t even see the glass in our arm.  Maybe we see it, but we are afraid to acknowledge it.  Maybe we do not know what to do with it. So instead we move along, compensating with our left arm.  Our left arm becomes sore, but we adapt.  Our right arm gets infected, but we adapt. As we do life side by side with others, the glass in our arm scratches, pokes, and stabs those around us—particularly those closest to us.  This is often unbeknownst to us, and sometimes it is known but we do not know how to stop the effects of our injuries on ourselves and on others. Others react to being scratched, poked, and stabbed by the shrapnel sticking out of us.  We do not understand their reaction because we cannot see the shrapnel, or we do see how we have hurt others but we simply do not know what to do about it.
(If you think you are an exception to this, ask those who know you the best and those to whom you are the closest, "Have I been wounded? Do I have wounds that have not healed? Do I wound others?" If you have no one who knows you well enough for you to ask them, then you may have your answer right there.)
The more I study the God of the Bible, the more I pour out my heart to him in prayer, the more I ask Him to show me, the more He does show me how this phenomenon works in my own life.  He has been exposing to me ways that I have been hurt in life and ways that I have been damaging myself and others in my woundedness.  He has been showing me that, while we may be wounded at no fault of our own, what we do with our woundedness is our responsibility.  He has been showing me how I wound others.  Sometimes it is out of my sheer selfishness, and other times it is out of not knowing what to do with my own woundedness. 
Seeing this in myself only reinforces my belief that I need a Savior.  I can confess my sin to Jesus, and He forgives me. He doesn’t excuse my sin, but rather pays for my sin.  He washes me clean of my sin and the sin done against me. He doesn’t leave me defenseless in my woundedness, but rather gives me help.  I do not have to live in shame or in secret. I don’t have to fend for myself. I don't have to defend my reputation. I don’t have to puff myself up and pretend to be someone I am not. I can be real with Him.  There is help, not judgment, when we run to His arms, when we are transparent, and when we admit that we need help. He continues to reveal to me truths about Himself and about myself.  He is patient with me, not revealing everything at once, but rather revealing things slowly as He prepares me. As He reveals problems, He also brings strength, peace, people and resources to help.  He helps me forgive, as He has forgiven me.  He helps me to bless those who curse me, as He has done the same for me.  He helps me speak truth and set boundaries.  He satisfies me with His love when the people who are supposed to love me don’t love me. He helps me change. He helps me ask for forgiveness from others. HE REMOVES THE SHRAPNEL FROM MY ARM! This process is painful, but it also brings healing to me and to others.
Psalm 147: 3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Psalm 34:4 & 5 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
Psalm 34:18 & 19 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
Psalm 34:22 “The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
Psalm 103
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 22 Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!”