1 Samuel 7:12 “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.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again.”
Years ago, one of the current fads was to have a pet rock. I don’t remember the sales pitch for buying them, but apparently it was just something to hold on to and feel comforted. I doubt that those in marketing these trinkets knew there was a Biblical basis for their product. The story is found in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 7. And it is a good story for the beginning of Lent.
Samuel tells us of a time after a long period of sadness and trouble, a consequence of Israel’s disobedience, Israel repented under the leadership of Samuel. God restored their political security, and the people, for their part, re-committed their hearts and minds to their Lord.
Samuel placed a large stone at the place where this restoration began. He publicly dedicated it as a monument to God’s help, God’s faithfulness and God’s eternal covenant. As the people got on with their lives, the stone stood there, visible to all who passed that way, a reminder of judgment and repentance, mercy and restoration. It was called an Ebenezer – a stone of help.
The Ebenezer stone represented a fresh beginning, a reversal of course for God’s people. It also said something important about God: his mercies are everlasting; his covenant is forever.
We often beat ourselves up over mistakes long past, failing to forgive ourselves even though we know God has forgiven us. But that is not what God wants for us.
Perhaps finding something, even a pet rock, to serve as a continual reminder
that we are forgiven, that we have chosen a new direction, that God has made a permanent covenant with all who put their faith in Jesus Christ would help us. I keep a couple of small rocks on my desk for that very purpose..
Samuel was a wise and godly man with a good idea. He recognized something that’s true about human nature and that is: we’re forgetful. By placing the Ebenezer, Israel could stand next to that big old rock and remind themselves, “Yes, we serve a living and faithful God, whose mercies are everlasting.”
Things like these help us to intentionally remember that there have been many places in our lives where we have seen God help us.
Remembering God’s past goodness and gifts to us can help tie us to the LORD and His goodness at times when we feel like we are coming apart and unattatched from all the good in our lives and it can bring great emotional healing.
The small stones we choose to hold serve as markers to remind us: the past is behind and we must keep pushing on toward the prize. We may have trouble – big trouble -and sorrow, but by faith we take a stand on God’s faithfulness.
Here, on God’s faithfulness, I raise MY Ebenezer, the marker that reminds me of a place God met me and helped me. I may mourn the past but I will not live in it. My Ebenezer will mark the point where I stopped looking for comfort and hope in the world and where I finally, once and for all, look for it and find it only in Christ.