There was a pile of stones marking out the very top of the hill that I walked up on Saturday.
This marking out is something that was also done by Samuel, in the Bible:
‘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.’’
The history behind this moment is some twenty years of the people of Israel living without God, in which time the Philistines have conquered and ruled over them. Change arrives when the people come to Samuel, seeking the Lord’s guidance for the first time in years. Samuel instructs them to get rid of their idols and rally together to fight the Philistines. Apparently, they do as instructed, and God confuses the Philistines such that the Israelites are then able to push the Philistines out of their land.
The verse above, 1 Samuel 7:12, is Samuel building a memorial to this work of the Lord. He is calling attention to the fact that it was God who led the people out of captivity and to victory over their enemies. The stone he sets up is a visual reminder that God was (and is) their ultimate helper: for Ebenezer means ‘the stone of help’. As people walk by the stone, they are to be reminded of the work of the Lord.
I know all too well that my memory is short. I forget the times I have seen God’s faithfulness in my life easily, and need reminding again of God’s grace. This is partly why I have a journal, and partly why I write on this blog – I am creating metaphorical stones of remembrance. They are testimonies of how God has provided for me and shown his tremendous love. Some of my blog posts have become places for me to come back to in times of need and trouble, so that I too can ‘walk by’ and be reminded of the work of the Lord.
To set up an Ebenezer is to set up a tangible way to see again God’s faithfulness.
Doing this is important, especially for days like today which, for me at least, is a day that is neither here nor there. Days like this, when nothing of particular note is happening, I tend to view as a ‘filler days’. Sandwiched between the last thing I was excited about and the next thing that I am waiting for. But God isn’t just for the exciting days or for the hard days, but also for my ‘filler days’. He is for all days, and for all of time, and his goodness and faithfulness are things to rejoice in always.
There’s a hymn I love (which I often hum but never sing because I always singularly fail to remember the lyrics) called ‘Come thou fount of every blessing’, and one of the verses has these lines:
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Filler days are days to raise my Ebenezer. As a reminder that today, too, is a full day of opportunities and blessings. A day that can and will also bear witness to God’s faithfulness.
Today I raise my Ebenezer.