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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."

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