Growing up in the church, I understood an ebenezer to be a marker set up to remember something that God has done in the past. The word is only mentioned briefly in Scripture. In I Samuel 7, Samuel raises a monument and calls it Ebenezer, which seems to mean a “stone of help.” It has come to mean, at least in some Christian circles, something set up as a reminder of God’s character or provision for His children.
God often instructs His children to remember and even gives physical signs to aid our remembrance of His character and provision.
Genesis 9:16 “When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
I don’t plan to erect stone monuments to the Lord as Samuel did, but I do take note of the ways God has provided for me and what He has revealed to me of His character at different points in my life. I write them down. I journal them. For me, some of my journals have turned into books, and each of the three books I’ve published are ebenezers to me, monuments that remind me of particular aspects of God’s character and provision that He revealed to me at specific times in my life. Practical Theology for Womenreflected the revelation that I need to know exactly what I believe about God, because knowing Him MATTERS to daily life. When my husband lost his job for a year and then needed open heart surgery right after moving to a city where we knew no one, understanding the character of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit became as necessary to me as oxygen. Practical Theology for Women was the fruit of that journey.
By His Wounds You are Healedwas written as I was emerging from a negative church situation, recognizing in the aftermath that using the words gospel, grace, and Jesus doesn’t mean one actually understands or acts consistently with what the Bible teaches about the gospel, God’s grace, or the person and work of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus has to mean something when conflicts arise. The beauty of the gospel, God’s grace, and Jesus shines brightest in the midst of sin and conflict, I learned through that study of Ephesians. By His Wounds reflects all God was teaching me of the profound meaning of grace as I studied His Word at that time.
The Gospel-Centered Womanwas born out of walking through painful circumstances that never seemed to resolve, both personally and with close friends. The biggest trials and struggles of many of my closest friends seem directly tied to things God has declared good and a blessing in women’s lives. How do we walk forward in this fallen world when God declares good the very things that bring such pain in our lives? The disconnect between what God intended in perfection and our reality after the fall seems insurmountable. And, actually, it is for us. But God declared good news through Jesus Christ – that Jesus summited what seemed insurmountable to us. He has made a way for us to live as overcomers in the midst of the kind of things that should destroy us. They that lose their lives shall find it. As I wrote TGCW, I loved meditating on the gospel and thinking through how very relevant it is as we yearn to be equipped to deal with hard things in life as women.
Along with several well marked Bibles, my books are my ebenezers, particularly my personal well worn copies with the Scripture all marked up. You too probably have something well marked representing times in the past where the Lord moved in your heart concerning His character and goodness. Whatever things you have around your home that contain physical reminders of how God has previously worked in your life, they are an important part of God’s instructions to sustain us for the long, hard, persevering walk of faith.
Some days, I am dry and thirsty, and I feel I can barely open my Bible in my discouragement, let alone tackle some new passage I’m supposed to be studying. On those days (which sometimes last for long seasons), ebenezers are a gift from God. He gave us great wisdom when He gave us the instruction, “Remember!” For myself, I find opening an old study Bible or my well marked copy of my study of Ephesians a conduit of great grace to me.
If you are in a hard season, it’s easy to forget or diminish what God has done for you in the past. “If God really worked for me in the past, why am I having such struggles now?! Shouldn’t it be getting better?” But that has never been the nature of this journey of faith. Never, ever in Scripture is it portrayed as a steady positive climb. It’s portrayed as mountains and valleys, raging rivers and dry deserts. He leads us by still waters where we can drink deeply. But it is in preparation for walking through the valley of the shadow of death. His instruction to REMEMBER is key for surviving the drought and enduring through the valleys.
If you are struggling right now in such a season, I offer the simple suggestion that you go find some ebenezer from your own life. Engage with the reminders of how God has worked for you in the past. I believe you will find water for your thirsty soul that equips you to endure for the future.
Psalm 77 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
“Remembering streams of mercy never ceasing, I raise my ebenezer.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; He to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood. How great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be.
Come thou fount of every blessing- tune my heart to sing songs of loudest praise.”
Wow, what a beautiful testimony filled with truth-filled wisdom. I need to consider how I can apply this in my own life.
THis is so good, Wendy. Thank you.
A beautiful call to be diligent in our remembering. We have on our wall a picture of the charter members of our church split-turned-plant as well as a copy of the order of that day's service. It is, as you've described here, a physical momento to a watershed moment not just in the life of my church but for me personally. I am thankful for that difficult season and for the ability to look back and see the Lord's grace and faithfulness to us. He is good!
Ebenezers are so dear to me perhaps because I so easily forget. And even after an Ebenezer has been erected eg a journal entry/a note in one's Bible etc, I still need to remind myself to go back to the Ebenezer as I'm prone to forget even this.
Your blog post which I read today came at a perfect time, you reminded me to return to the Ebenezers that have already been erected in my life and be again blessed. Thank you.
I've spent the last week listening John Piper's How's to fight for joy. I appreciated your 2nd to last paragraph, ;'REMEMBERing is key to surviving the drought and enduring the valleys'.. so true.
Thank you so much.
Would people count as ebenezers? One of the biggest reminders in my life of His sustaining help and grace are three friends. We were literally neighbors over twenty years ago, but have scattered to the four corners of the Pacific Northwest. We get together four times a year to celebrate each other's birthdays. You can imagine the seasons we have endured with each other.
It's not what we've said or done for each other that matters the most to me, important as that is, but that we are still there after all these years. It points me to Jesus who said He will never leave nor forsake us.
I am in this dry season of my life and for a long time now. And I wondered how God can be so distant? Last night I asked in my prayer for God to speak to me and just fill me with His grace once again… When I opened your blog, “Ebenezers for a Parched Soul” was a striking message which I felt God used to speak to me directly. Thank you so much for your message. I cried when
I read this and I know that He's always there for me. All I've got to do is to REMEMBER who He is and what He has done for me in the past and in my life. To REMEMBER His faithfulness, goodness, mercy and grace which abounds in every areas of my life… May God richly bless you as you continue to encourage and lift up people through your messages.
I am in this dry season of my life and for a long time now. And I wondered how God can be so distant? Last night I asked in my prayer for God to speak to me and just fill me with His grace once again… When I opened your blog, “Ebenezers for a Parched Soul” was a striking message which I felt God used to speak to me directly. Thank you so much for your message. I cried when I read this and I know that He's always there for me. All I've got to do is to REMEMBER who He is and what He has done for me in the past and in my life. To REMEMBER His faithfulness, goodness, mercy and grace which abounds in every areas of my life… May God richly bless you as you continue to encourage and lift up people through your messages.
I love this! Thank you for sharing. I don't keep the most consistent journals but for me songs are often Ebenezers. i hear a song and i remember where i was and what God was doing in my life at the time. Often it reminds me where He has brought me out of. Or a moment when i was overwhelmed by a newly learned characteristic of my God. I'm so glad you are writing to women Wendy. it is an encouragement to me!
Thank you, Abigail!