Y’all, this world is crazy. Every day it seems like there something happens and I think, “I honestly don’t know how it could get much crazier.” Then, it’s like the world sets out on a mission to prove me wrong. I’m not just talking about bad things that happen, although bad things do seem to happen a lot. It’s just seems like there is always something happening. Maybe stuff has been happening for decades or even centuries, but now we have unlimited access to technology, social media, or websites that will tell us all about it. We are more aware of what’s happening around our country and globally in a way that we have never been up until the last 10 or so years. It’s easy to become disoriented because it feels like the world is moving faster every day. It’s easy to fall into a trap of trying to keep up with whatever is happening in our society. When this happens, we start to lose focus of what is truly important and maybe don’t make as much of an effort to set aside time to focus on the Lord. We start to believe we are doing things ourselves and might be chugging along just fine. It usually doesn’t take long for something to knock us off our feet and remind us that we cannot, in fact, do it on our own.
Something I have always struggled with is wondering exactly how present God is in our lives. I mean, I know He cares for us, loves us, and sent us the Holy Spirit as a promise and a helper. Does he really care about the minute details of our lives? Does it really matter if I get Chuy’s or Zaxby’s for dinner? Cheer for a certain sports team? Prefer Coke over Pepsi? Or what about when someone has two job opportunities, both equally good… Does he really care what job we have as long as we are glorifying Him? This is more of an internal battle between my head and my heart about God’s will more than anything. However, when looking back at my life, trying to think about decisions, events, or periods of time when the Lord’s providence was undeniable, I become much more aware of the active role the Lord has in my life. These moments are my Ebenezers. You have them too. And when Ebenezers are reflected on, it’s hard not to become overwhelmingly grateful we are not walking through this life alone.
In 1 Samuel 7, we read specifically about a time the Lord intervened on behalf of Israel, and they built an Ebenezer in response. Samuel is calling on the Israelites to repent and turn back to the Lord. They threw away their idols and committed to serving God only. Samuel called them all together, and they were praying and fasting at Mizpah. The Philistines heard about this, and tried to attack them while they were doing this. BUT THE LORD (probably my favorite phrase in the whole Bible) caused such a booming, thunderous, powerful sound to happen that it sent the whole Philistine army into a panic. Now I am in graduate school to become an audiologist, so my whole entire education and career is built around sound. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to watch this situation play out. All because of what God did, the Israelites defeated the Philistines. To commemorate the event, Samuel built a stone monument, so they could always remember how the Lord helped them during that time. Ebenezer translates to “stone of help”. It was something they could look back on and be reminded of the providence of God.
In Psalm 27, David starts the psalm by going through events that happened in his life he couldn’t have gotten through if not for the Lord’s help. He lists all these times where his enemies were surrounding him, tried to hurt him, and war rose against him. He talks about how the Lord protected him during those times. He even says he told God to not hide His face from him. All of these situations are really unfortunate. Nobody wants to be on the run hiding from people who are trying to kill them. Yet, he ends the psalm by saying this:
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
It could have been so easy for David to have a negative attitude about his situation. He could have said, “Man this really stinks. I’m tired of using rocks for pillows. I just want to go home. Why does everybody hate me? I would much rather have this person or that person’s life.” In the midst of all of the unfortunate events he’s facing, David has confidence that there is good that can be seen in this world because God is ultimately over all. He looks back on his life and acknowledges how the Lord was active. To wait on the Lord does not mean to sit around twiddling our thumbs until God decides to do something. It means that as we go throughout our lives, we are proactive, trusting, patient, and dependent on him, and when He helps us, we mark that time, moment, and/or situation as an Ebenezer in our lives.
I encourage you to come up with some kind of way to remember these moments. Whether that is in a note on your phone, a journal, art, a bulletin board, sticky notes, whatever it may be, it will give you a tangible way to look back on your life and see how God has been working. It can be a reminder of how far he has brought you, give you hope for what he will continue to do in you and through you, and that he is faithful in keeping his promises.