Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us." ~ 1 Samuel 7:12
I can remember as a child traveling the back roads of northeastern North Carolina, headed for my great Uncle Sam’s farm in the country. A suburban girl, I was captivated by the scenery as busy highways turned into rural roads. Each twist and turn of the narrow road gave me a glimpse of days-gone-by.
Century old homes dotted the landscape. Some homes were grand, well kept, and full of life; other small farmhouses appeared tired, gray and weary. Numerous churches lined the road. Red brick churches, with large stained glass windows and steeples pointed heavenward; small white-washed clapboard churches with heavy doors had more headstones than parking spaces. I vividly remember one church with a peculiar name. Why would any one name their church Ebenezer? I wondered who Ebenezer was…and why would someone choose a name like that for their son?
We moved. My elderly uncle sold the farm and moved to Virginia. Decades passed. I often thought of the fun times on the farm, but the old church name was long forgotten…until I was reading through 1 Samuel.
Ebenezer. The word seemed to jump off the page; instantly the image of the old church came to mind. Ebenezer wasn’t a person; it was a memorial stone, placed by Samuel, as a reminder to the Israelites of what the Lord had done for them.
I allowed my mind to wander from the Scripture, bringing the story to life. I imagined a father walking by the stone and whispering to his children, “See that stone? Back when your grandfather was a young boy, God gave the men of Israel a great victory over the Philistines. Now remember that when you are facing difficulties.”
My imagination led me to an ah-ha moment. How often did I get overwhelmed by circumstances and forget what the Lord had previously done? If Samuel had to place a visual reminder for the children of Israel, then why didn’t I do the same? I began to intentionally looking for “reminders” of God’s faithfulness and help.
When I went to a mission trip to Brazil, I purchased a blue topaz ring. Ebenezer. I am reminded of God’s financial provision.
After sharing my testimony for the first time at a ladies’ retreat in the mountains of Tennessee, I selected a large stone from the creek bed and hauled it home. Ebenezer. God is always with me, especially when I am out of my comfort zone.
Shortly after Hurricane Ivan devastated our area, I found an old stuffed teddy bear washed up against a brick wall in our office parking lot. Ebenezer. While I felt quite alone dealing with home repairs, I was not alone.
I found a copy of a favorite childhood book in a rural Texas antique store, literally hours before I learned my office was going to close. Ebenezer. If God loved me enough to allow me to find a beloved book, He loved me enough to see me through the job situation.
A stack of ribbon-tied cards, from my mentor, reminds me God has placed friends in my life to continually encourage and pray for me. A gift from a friend, a small red glass heart, reminds me God loves me. A small plaque on my desk reminds me to “be still and know that He is God.”
Ebenezer. Indeed the Lord is faithful to help…not just in the difficult circumstances, but also in the mundane of the daily routine.