Remembering our Ebenezers

All throughout the Old Testament, God’s people are always piling up rocks. Sometimes altars, sometimes landscape formations…I don’t really know.

But these stones are always directly tied to an encounter with God. A moment in time when heaven meets earth in a tangible experience.

They see God perform a miracle, they set up stones of remembrance. They witness God’s protection, they build an altar. They experience God’s deliverance from their enemies, they build a memorial.

I adore this imagery.

Because several of these stones were raised during a nomadic time.

A time when the entire nation of Israel is displaced. When all of God’s people are exiled. When they’re wandering around in a desert, waiting for directions to the Promised Land. When they’re moving from place to place with everything they own and everyone they know.

Sometimes walking. Sometimes trudging. Sometimes limping.

But they keep moving.

And all along their journey, God is there. He is with them. He is moving within them.

They see His miracles and they praise Him. They set up a visual reminder. “Oh the Lord is good! He met us here. Praise the Lord.” 

Then they keep moving.

And the road is long. And it’s hot. And it’s hard. And there is pain and uncertainty. And they are overwhelmed by the unknown. And they forget God’s promises.

“Where is God? Why does this hurt? When will we get there? Is this worth it?”

Then they see His miracles and they praise Him. They set up a visual reminder. “Oh the Lord is good! He met us here. Praise the Lord.”

…can you imagine this?

When things get hard, when they don’t understand, when they lose momentum, when doubts creep in, when they’re trudging along wondering if the up-ahead is going to be all it’s cracked up to be…it is in these moments that they look behind at where they’ve been.

And sprinkled along the path as far back as they can see, they see stones. Visual, tangible, rock-commemorated moments where they experienced God.

And they elbow each other and point.

They lean in and whisper,

“Oh yeah. Ohhh yeahhh. Remember that time? Remember what He did there?

He is good. He is faithful. He’s in control.”

At a time when it was easy to forget, they found real, intentional ways to remember the Lord. To remind themselves and others of His presence and faithfulness.

That was then.

We’re in the now.

But whoa-my-goodness we’re in another season of forgetfulness. We’ve forgotten who God is.

I mean, we remember….sort of.

We remember – briefly – but then we turn on the news. And see the latest ISIS reports. And we fear.

We remember briefly, but then politics. The election. And we dread.

We remember briefly, but then blatant, rampant racism. And we divide.

We remember briefly, but then parenting is hard. And we worry.

Remembering Well

My favorite stone story is in 1 Samuel 7. Long story super short, God delivers His people from their enemies. They respond by setting up a memorial.

Samuel names the stone “Ebenezer” and says, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

(Think Come Thou Fount lyrics: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come.”)

A few years ago, I started compiling my own Ebenezers. I call it my “Oh Yeahhh” list.

It looks a little less like a primitive rock formation and more like a Moleskin notebook and some colored post-its:

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My Ebenezers are times in my life when heaven met earth. When I experienced God tangibly.

Some are small and superficial. Like the time my kid had a seizure in an urgent care waiting room. (I mean, if you’re going to seize, that is certainly the place to do it.)

Some are big and foundational. Like the time I watched the Lord change a life with a pair of Nike Shox. Or like the time one of my children was conceived despite 2 forms of birth control.

Some are fun (and borderline stupid). Like a free trampoline from our neighbors after deciding we couldn’t afford one.

Some are painful yet powerful. Like crying out to the Lord during a run, asking why He didn’t heal my friend’s newborn of his heart condition, and immediately looking up to see heart-shaped leaves surrounding me with the whispered promise, “He’s with me now and he is whole. I’m still here.”

These are my Ebenezers.

My moments I want to remember. Moments of God’s faithfulness.

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I add to my Ebenezer list when times are good so that it will be handy when times are bad. In the seasons I don’t hear Him. On the days I can’t really feel Him. On the days I doubt.

And on those hard days, I pull out my list and say, “Oh. yeah. Oh yeahhh!”

Our Ebenezer moments are different. Our journeys are unique. But we all have them.

And God’s presence in our past gives us hope for tomorrow.

If the Lord has been faithful up until now, why. in. the. world. would He not be in the future?

If He has been in control up until now, why. in. the. world. would He not be after November 8th?

I think it’s time we start remembering well, together. We have a chance to tell the world a better, more hopeful narrative.

Make your list. (Check it twice.)

Share it with people you love. Talk to your kids about it.

We tend to forget easily. Let’s start remembering well.

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