"Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I've come."
-Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
So, to give credit where credit is due, this entry is greatly inspired by last night's service at Lifepoint. To start, here is a bit of a contextual preface from 1 Samuel 7:1-17. Here, Israel is in mourning, as they have once again turned away from God. (This happens quite often; I'd be frustrated with the Israelites if their lives didn't mirror my own so much.) Here, Samuel says "If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and He will deliver you out of the hands of the Philistines." While it is generally well-known, it is important to note that it is pretty common for the Israelites to create manmade idols and worship foreign gods instead of the one true God. (Who, I can only imagine, must perform an epic facepalm every time His chosen people stray.) The Israelites then gathered at a place called Mizpah and fasted, poured water out before the Lord, and confessed, so that Samuel may intercede with God. Those darn Philistines heard about this and, seeing it as a moment of weakness, decided to be total jerks and launch an attack. When the Israelites found out about the attack, they prayed even more fervently, and made a burnt offering to God. Here's the crazy part; When the Philistines drew near, "The Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites." The Israelites then proceeded to chase them down and own them.
So here we have an incredible story of repentance on behalf of the Israelites, and of God's mercy shining through, as well as His awesome provision. But here comes the crux of the story. (Well, at least for the purposes of this blog.) After the Philistines were defeated, Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen. "He named it Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far has the Lord helped us.'" This may seem insignificant, but it's pretty crucial. Samuel is setting up a monument, a reminder of sorts, to always show how the Lord has provided. And it makes me think; I go through life with a cycle of crises, always praying for God's help with one thing, then switching to another once He's taken care of it. In the midst of all my asking of God, it is a rare occasion that I actually stop to just thank and praise Him for the amazing things He's done. I look back at some hard times in my life, which at the time seemed hopeless, and seemed so desperate. Often, I could never see God working; I'd scream at Him to show up, but He was already taking care of things, a realization that only comes with hindsight. Sometimes, you have to get some distance from your problems before you realize how puny they are compared to God. This past January, I was pretty bad off. I was close to a level of clinical depression, due to many things that would take too long to type up, and I really didn't know where God was, nor could I see Him working. Looking back, I see some of the amazing things He was doing in me that were right in front of me. I see how the situations I was put into and the people I've been around have molded my life into what it is, and I am thankful for that. God isn't always immediate; He can be pretty sneaky/subtle sometimes in the ways He works in people.
So onto the big thing, which is giving Him thanks for this. What can I do to place Ebenezer stones in my own life? Well, there's the hope that God will work in others through me, and that me helping them along the path to God is a tribute in itself. And isn't that the core desire of a follower of Christ? To experience His love, and to bring others to experience it? There are other stones I think I leave. As a musician, my songs are worship to Him, and in that aspect are very much commemorative pieces to Him, much like the stones. They illustrate ways that He has spoken to me, and how that has changed me.
There isn't a whole lot of deep extrapolation here. Mainly, I just wrote this as a way of recognizing just how far God has carried me, even in the short span of a year. It is incredibly encouraging to look back and see just how easily God has dealt with some of the hardest parts of my life. It gives me a lot of hope for Him working in current and future struggles. After all, there isn't really any problem too big for Him too handle, and He's proved that time and time again.