The Stone of Hope

Ms. O

I have a small stone that sits on my bathroom sink. It is not decorative at all. A simple stone…that speaks to me each morning as I get ready for the day….and every night before I go to bed.

It is my Ebenezer.

I am a tactile learner. If only my science teachers had known this, I might have been easier to teach…and it would have not been so hard on me either. The periodical tables were a mess period. A jumbled scramble of letters that made no sense to me…at all.…they still don’t. Chemistry…ugh…biology…double ugh. I need to hold it in my hand…try it out…make it tick…and then it begins to make sense to me.

Ebenezer stone

One of my favorite lessons I taught to the youth is about the Ebenezer stone. If there ever were a teacher that could have gotten through to me…it would have been Samuel…and God of course.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

I am all about history…love it…love it…love it. And this little slice speaks volumes. I want you to picture this.  The Israelites are going head to head with the Philistines. Past history had not boded well for the Israelites…because they left out a key component….relying on God. Samuel seeks….sacrifices…coming before God….crying out for the people of Israel….and the Lord answered him. The victory…first time in the nation’s history…was won.

It was at that point that Samuel takes a stone…no clue how big…or little it was…that is not the point.  In front of the battle worn crowd he sets it up and names it…Ebenezer….the stone of help. What is even better though is what he proclaims for all within earshot to hear….

“Thus far has the Lord helped us.”

I absolutely LOVE that visual. I can just picture Samuel…glancing backwards…at the battlefield…and then toward the crowd…and then into the distance that lies ahead. Those words had to be a powerful statement…a reminder…a touchstone. God has helped us this far…you know He will take us all the way “home”.

Last year when we were in Israel, we were scaling a hillside…which was quite an incline…to get to the top of the rise that looked out over the Valley of Elah…where David fought Goliath. I was gasping…I’m being serious here…apparently climbing the stairs at the church was not ample training for the forty-five degree angles of Israel. As I reached the top of the hill…and looked backwards to where we had been…and then to the valley where the battle that every Sunday school class around the world has heard about….was fought…I was reminded of the Ebenezer. That stone that David used to slay  the giant was his stone of help…a reminder that God was with him…and was not leaving any time soon…like never.

There have been quite a few times that I have camped out in the desert…wondering at the future…what lies ahead for me. I use the word camped for a reason…because I felt like I had set up home there…in the valley of “no hope”. The band warms up…so it can play the mournful strains of the pity party…as the worry takes hold of me. What will become of my life…it is not going according to plan…am I in this alone….I think you catch my drift. It is at that point I feel the stone that is set before me, waiting for me to stumble…so I can get a better view….of where I have been…and Who is waiting ahead.

When I hear the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” I can’t help but tear up…especially when it comes to the second verse.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer

Hither by thy help I’m come;

And I hope, by thy good pleasure,

Safely to arrive at home.

When I feel weary from fighting battles…up against the unknown…I hear God speaking to me softly…firmly…with the confidence of the All-Mighty….”Linda….look back…see where we have been together…see the marks along the way…places I have picked you  up…dusted you off…carried you. Mark this day…thus far I have helped you…I know the way Home…and I will lead you there. Don’t lose sight of Who I Am…raise your Hope…your Ebenezer…so we can keep moving forward.”

So each morning as I brush my teeth I see my Ebenezer and know that the day ahead is dedicated to the Lord…with Whom I put my hope. And each evening as the sun sets and I look in the mirror into weary eyes…and a tired soul…I glance at that tiny stone and tell myself…thus far the Lord has brought me…He will bring me the rest of the way…Home.

Amen.