Wednesday, October 22, 2008

who moved my ebenezer?

What do you do if your ebenezer is a person? Yes, I know that you aren't supposed to trust in men. (tho I guess you really don't trust in an ebenezer anyway, rather use it as a visual symbol.) But this was different. This was a baby. A baby who symbolized many things: hope, the power of prayer, that God was still alive and working - not just in general, but in my world. It was my sign. GOD IS REAL. And every time I looked at her I remembered. Until she was no longer in front of me. Along with the struggle of losing community and losing friends I lost my ebenezer.

What is an ebenezer? Actually in Hebrew, the word ebenezer is two words - one meaning "help" and one meaning "stone". So the literal meaning of ebenezer is "Stone of Help". Samuel built an ebenezer on the occasion when the Israelites finally were victorious over the Philistines. Despite previous losses or failures in this same endeavor, they kept on and ultimately defeated the enemy.

Dr. Gregory S. Neal, Senior Pastor of St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Mesquite, Texas has this to say: " Literally speaking, an Ebenezer is a "stone of help," or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the Sacramental Elements, a cross, a picture, a fellow believer, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love, God’s Real Presence, and God’s assistance are "Ebenezers."

During a very rough time in my life, one of great doubting and great questioning, a tiny baby became my symbol of God's faithfulness. No matter how bad things got after that I could look at her face and see God and his presence. She became my reminder that He got me through it before, he will again. But she's no longer in a place where I can go to embrace my ebenezer, to touch the stones, to feel like I'm standing in the presence of God.

I have lost my ability to see the sun through the clouds, the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel kinda hopeless, and don't know how to recover. Before, when it got rough all I had to do was hold her, even just see her and I was reminded of the faithfulness of a loving God. He is there. He is at work, He answers pray. He cares.

And right now it seems like too much work to get to the place where I have a reason to build a new ebenezer.....

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