Day 16: Help for the Journey

I didn’t grow up singing hymns. We took a more contemporary approach at our church, so I wasn’t exposed to many hymns until I became an adult. I love the sincerity and the poetry in the lyrics, but I confess I’m not really a fan of the dirge-like accompanying music. Over the years, I developed a soft spot for old hymns sung with a contemporary twist. Redemption Songs by Jars of Clay is a favorite.

The first time I heard ‘O Come thou Fount of Every Blessing’ I came away a little bit in love and a little bit confused. The song contains these lines: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, Here by Thy great help I’ve come.” I found it difficult to sing along because I had no idea what an Ebenezer was, envisioning myself struggling to hold up a wizened old man while asking for help.

I later learned an Ebenezer is a ‘Stone of Help’. It is the stone Samuel raised and left standing as a reminder of God’s help in a time of need. An Ebenezer represents the places where we experience a sacred encounter with God, in which He answers our cries for help.

When I think about my life’s journey—when I consider where I began, how twisted and root-laden the path, how often I plead for God to move on my behalf—I think it fitting I should raise an Ebenezer in remembrance. I want to turn around and look back, not with regret, but with joy as I see marker after marker of each place God reached down and offered me His hand.

This blog is an Ebenezer, so too are my journals. I write and I remember. I raise my words like a stone, an altar of sorts, and I erect them in worship. I need a reminder. I forget too easily when the obstacle in front of me becomes the only thing I see and the future looks like a Polaroid picture waiting to develop. But, I have my Ebenezers, my altars to return to, and there I sing a hymn of deliverance—a song of redemption.

Do you have a Stone of Help? A place, an object, a spiritual practice you return to in order to remember?

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  • Nice. Here you are raising your Ebenezer. Yes, I think my written words are my Ebenezer, though I hadn’t thought of it that way. For a while, our family collected rocks we thought were cool. When God did something big in our lives, we wrote on the rock with Sharpie or wrote out the story on paper and rubber-banded it to one of the rocks selected to represent that big act of power/love/forgiveness/encouragement/answered prayer. We kept them in a glass jar to be able to look at them and remember.

    We fell out of that habit and lost that tradition. What a shame. It was a good one.

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