Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
The day is done. Thanksgiving is over. We’ve had a day to look around the table and be grateful for what we have, to celebrate the goodness in our lives, to thank God. But as the day wore on, Black Friday and its promise of mega bargains in the early hours of the morning moves us on. Before we know it we’re thinking of Christmas gifts and budgets and decorations and stuff and life all over again. Some shops even broke into the day itself, opening at 10pm Thanksgiving night with the promise of bargains worth leaving your pumpkin pie for. Perhaps it’s a bizarre thought, but we need something more permanent than one holiday and an amazing meal to be thankful.
Samuel found a way to make something permanent out of a thankful moment. They understood the human condition; that it’s so much easier to remember and feel those bad times than the good. So he made an Ebenezer. It was a solid way (literally) to remember God, a physical point of reference. Whenever they looked at the rock, they were reminded of God’s goodness and greatness.
A huge rock may not exactly work for us today, but it’s great to find tangible ways to remember who God is, what he has done. Not just the general things, but more pertinently the way God’s goodness and greatness has weaved its ways through the story of our lives. We need those reminders for the tough days, the mundane times, when temptations tantalize with a strangely rational appeal.
In our family we have an Ebenezer wall – where we gather the testimonies of each year with God. When life is challenging, I’ll be found there, poring over the photographs and cards that will tell me the God who stood with me then, stands with me now. In the good times when I pass by the wall – I’m reminded of whom to thank, and I’m humbled again. Our Ebenezer helps us to develop a thankful life.
How do you mark the place where God has helped you?
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood
(Robert Robinson 1757)