A sweet friend shared an idea with me awhile back that I haven’t been able to forget. A sweet friend of hers gifted her a baggy of decorative river rocks and a bouquet of paint pens. The idea was to record the ebenezers of her life, one on each stone, as a way of practicing regular thanksgiving and rememberance of the way in which God had worked in her life. The basis for this idea came from this:
“So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah...And the people of Israel said to Samuel, "Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines." So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him...Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, "Till now the Lord has helped us."” —1 Samuel 7:6, 8-9, 12
Confession, repentance, atonement, adoration, thanksgiving, faithfulness—these are the ways in which Holy God encounters us and in which we interact with Him. The stones my friend has created and will create are a tangible reminder of God’s work and His faithfulness in her life. She shared this with me and like Liz Lemon my response was, “I want to go to there!”
I shared this idea with another friend, as these really great ideas are apt to spread. She stumbled across a sale of those decorative river rocks and snagged six 5-lb jars for a song. In her kindness and generosity, she gave me 3 of those jars. And so I can begin setting up my Ebenezers, as it were. And I have some backlogging to do. But this I want to live out:
“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.”
Thus begins my endeavor to do so. I hope you’ll follow along—not because of me or because my story is particularly compelling (although, there are some good parts!). But because what I have to share is about what God has done; how He has worked and is working. I want to tell of His faithfulness.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.”—Psalms 77:11-14
Autumn is late in coming this year. The trees remain stubbornly green, reveling in the spring and summer constancy of their verdant, dappled light. The air and temperature have followed suit, giving us an unusual September and October of warm, and even hot, days.
I tend to think of winter as having a claw-like grip because it often hangs on here, well into April (even though to assign it a claw conjures images of something evil, devoid of mercy and savagely cruel). But winter, like all its brother-seasons, has distinct beauty and necessity of its very own. Summer, however, seems to have grown a claw this year, arriving late and much too unwilling to take its leave. I enjoy summer in its time but in my mind, its time is long past and it needs to take a look at the calendar, get with the program, and be done for the year.
Each season has become even more of a joy to me since moving to this place, six and a half years ago. They each take their turns, performing their magic on the days assigned to them and I have fallen in love with each. Fall, though. It was ho-hum to me before PA. Mostly, it made me think of starting a new school year—new pencils and notebooks, fresh starts of learning, the bus billowing clouds of dust as it bounced down the dirt road. But here...here it is a glorious manifestation of the power of God and His handiwork in creation. The light truly is golden; the trees are fiery jewels of color; the air is literally crisp, with a bite of chill that heralds the inevitable dance into winter. People fire pit here like crazy. And that smell of a burning wood lingers in the air, even in the mornings after laughter around that hot warmth that makes the front of you glow while the back stays sharp with a frosty nip; then you turn to warm your back and the iciness melts away in that same hot warmth. Like a friend gone for too long a time, my heart yearns for the return of fall this year.
Thankfully, Monday night, the temperatures dropped and fall seems to have come back to town. I’m hoping this cold snap will finally convince the trees to give up their sugar-saturated ways so the green will fade and their true colors will paint them bold on the landscape.
All of this to say, this place is the earthly home I never knew I was missing. It is exactly where I want to live my life. I am thankful for this place—its beauty and its joys; the struggles and the trials (yes, they do exist here). Here I raise this Ebenezer because it is the mercy and grace of God in my life.