Here I Raise My Ebenezer...
Recently I was reading through Genesis in my daily Bible reading plan. Every time that I read through the Genesis or other parts of the Old Testament, I am always impressed by the tradition that the ancient Hebrews embraced of marking the events for future generations by building an Ebenezer.
Yeah, you heard correctly….Ebenezer. But not like Ebenezer Scrooge. More like a big rock.
The definition of Ebenezer according to Miriam Webster is “A commemoration of divine assistance.” In the Old Testament, they would set up a pile of rocks or stand a large rock up in the ground at the place where they wanted to be sure to remember the Lord. The rock could serve as a reminder of something miraculous that God had done for them. Or it could mark a spot where they wanted to cry out to the Lord for help and assistance. In fact, the Hebrew word Ebenezer literally means “rock of help.”
You might have heard the word Ebenezer in the famous hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.
“Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I’ve come; And I hope by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home.”
When an Ebenezer was raised, the intent was that when someone passed by it, they would remember to either praise God for a miracle or cry out to God in lament. They would pass the Ebenezer and tell their children about the meaning of the pillar. And thus, the praise and pleadings would continue down to future generations.
So as I was reading my Bible this week, it prompted me to stop and think about the events in my life that would warrant raising and Ebenezer. Places where I have truly seen the faithfulness of God. Stories that I want to be sure that my children hear over and over again. Events that I never want to forget. (One such event was the circumstances surrounding our first sibling group adoption. It’s a doozy of a story!)
And then there are places in my life where I am continually crying out to the Lord to intervene. Perhaps you can relate to this one. Maybe you are praying for your children who are not making wise decisions. Or perhaps there is a circumstance that is constantly bringing heartache to your family. Sometimes our momma hearts are breaking and we just need to cry out to Jesus. I love what the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon said in his sermon on Ebenezers:
“You must remember, too, that Ebenezer was the place of lamentation after the Lord. They came together to pray for God to return to them. We shall surely see God when we long after him. So while you and I express gratitude for the past, let us breathe another prayer to God for renewed grace. If you personally have lost the light of His face, pray this morning — Return, oh holy Dove! Return, Sweet messenger of rest! I hate the sins that made you mourn, and drove you from my breast."
So while you and I express gratitude for the past, let us breathe another prayer to God for renewed grace.
Raising an Ebenezer
And surely in our large families, there are many causes for both rejoicing and lament. I think there are lots of ways to raise an Ebenezer. I’ve been pondering it, and I think some of these things have just happened naturally in our family as we have sought out to develop our family culture.
I'm sure there are so many other ways to raise Ebenezers in our lives, but here are a few thoughts that have come to mind:
- Prayer journaling – Oh how I cherish my journals from my days in college when I was the queen of prolific journaling! I can read through my years of asking God for wisdom in certain situations, tears shed over heartbreak, and the amazing way that God brought me together with my husband, Curtis. These will be wonderful treasures to share with my children one day. I don't journal as much as I used to before kids. At least not on paper. But it's something I would love to get back into the habit of doing.
- Decorating with a purpose –When I think about it, a lot of the knickknacks in my home have a special history behind them. Some are to remind me of vacations we have taken. For example, I’ve got several wooden flamingos in my office that I picked up in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. I’ve got special family heirlooms that have been passed down from my great grandparents as well as my husband’s family. I have tiny elephants carved from (ironically) ivory that Curtis’ grandmother acquired while living in Africa in the 60’s. We’ve got photos on the wall of family members from the Great Depression and World War II. And I have afghans on my couch that my late sister crocheted. All these things serve to weave a rich tapestry of my family’s history, heritage, and story.
But I’ve been thinking about how infrequently I’ve decorated in order to commemorate something big God has done in our lives. Or maybe put up adecorative Ebenezer to remind me to pray for my children as I walk by. That’s going to change, though. This is something I definitely want to add to our home!
- Literal Ebenezers – What if every time God did something miraculous we set up a literal pillar of rock in a place such as our garden? I love this idea because I think it would prompt questions from others outside the family, giving more opportunity to share the testimony of God’s faithfulness. But if you aren’t one to want seemingly random piles of rocks or pillars in your yard, another idea would be to to create concrete stepping stones through your garden. Would that be beautiful?!
Whether we choose to use literal stones in our garden or just reflect personally on what God has done, I love the idea of developing a family culture around Ebenezers--around remembering. When the days are filled with the distractions and stress that inevitably come with a large family, how wonderful to be surrounded by reminders to briefly pause and thank God for all He has done and all He will do.
How do you commemorate what the Lord has done for your family?
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