When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.”… While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. ..
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory.
[1 Samuel 7: 7-8, 10, 12-13 NIV]
In the second verse of the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is the phrase, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, Here by Thy great help I’ve come.”
Whenever we reflect back on our lives, we can remember times when we too can say, just as Samuel and the Israelites said, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” All those moments need to be memorialized with an Ebenezer. Mine are lines written inside a bible even though Ebenezers are technically stones of remembrance. I think if I had a garden, I would plant a stone for each event, turning the highlights of my life into a path of God’s faithfulness and goodness.
The words I have written inside my bible re-tells my story to me and I have found that I need to be reminded of this story. It must stand out above all the other narratives I tell myself about me. When I look over what I have written through the years, I am often surprised by how much I manage to forget. My Ebenezers stay as fixed points against the moving tide of time.
It is never too late to raise up an Ebenezer and acknowledge our Father’s presence and help in our lives. The birth of a child. The death of a parent. That victory. That spectacular defeat. The long awaited goal achieved after years of struggle. That devastating error that ruined years. The times when we could say we are truly loved and blessed. The times when what we feared most over took us. We make these turbulent times concrete by raising Ebenezers and reaffirming: My God helped me. I am who I am because of what happened and because He held on to me.
We need to grow a garden of stones of remembrance.