I remember growing up and singing these words and never fully understanding the richness and meaning hidden between the lines of the stanza of this old hymn. “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come. And I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.”
As we were embarking on our first anniversary of living overseas in Central Asia, I remember reading the passage in 1 Samuel where the Lord delivered the Israelites from the Philistines. 1 Samuel 7:12 says, “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”.
Also, in Joshua the Lord told Joshua to have twelve men from the twelve tribes of Israel to each gather a stone from the Jordan River and set them up as a remembrance of when the Lord led them across the river and they all crossed over on dry ground. Joshua tells them that when their children ask, ‘what are these stones?’, they were to serve as a memorial of what the Lord had done for them. Joshua 4:24 says, “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forevermore.”
Sometimes I forget. I forget where I leave my keys and my cell phone all too often, just ask my husband. I sometimes forget some of my closest friends birthdays and special dates. I find myself frequently looking for an important item that I have put in that one special place where I know I will find it.....but... I forgot the place! But unfortunately sometimes I forget the Lord’s faithfulness to me.
This particular year in Central Asia I started a tradition for our family called Ebenezer Day. We went to a beautiful area outside of our city and we had everyone to collect stones. We built a little altar where we roasted hotdogs and a sad substitute for s’mores. I read both of these passages and explained to our kids how we were going to remember the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives. I had started recording things in my journal....big and small....where the Lord showed His faithfulness and proved that He was mindful of us. Examples of these things were, a package right when we needed it from a friend in America, a visit with a sweet friend that refreshed my soul, favor at our kids’ new school, a Skype phone call with an encouraging word and the list goes on and on. This has become a cherished time for our family as we sit each year and I read to them the list of the Father’s grace and faithfulness in our lives.
Just like the Lord knew that the Israelites would need to be reminded when he told them to gather stones, we too need refreshers. When we are struggling for faith and to see the Lord at work in our lives, these reminders help us to hold on in the tough times. Just as the old hymn says, we need to raise our Ebenezer, the recounting of God’s faithfulness in our lives, so we can see where the Lord has taken us and just how far we’ve come.
Think About: How has the Lord been faithful to you over the past week, month, or year? What can you do to help you and your family recount the Lord’s faithfulness in your lives?
Prayer: Father forgive us for the many ways that you show your faithfulness every day of our lives and we never even acknowledge it. Help us to quickly recognize your hand in our lives. Thank you for your faithfulness and showing us in big and little ways just how mindful you are of us.