Here I Raise My Ebenezer!
Lent is a season of repentance, fasting, and prayer. We talk about these themes in church all the time, but recently I ran across this idea of a fourth practice of Lent, remembering. If you are like me, it is easy to remember all things we need to do like laundry, taxes, and projects that need our attention. We also easily remember mistakes we made. Things we wish we could change or events we wish turned out differently. But this Lenten practice isn’t about remembering all those things that we wish we could forget, but about remembering what we have forgotten about God.
The Israelites had a wonderful way of this doing this. When they celebrated something that God had done they would build an altar. These altars would be stacked rocks on the side of the road or even in a field so that every time they passed the altar in their travels, it would be a sign to remember God.
For example, after a long time, the Israelites had struggled to win battles, they made their own decisions, and thought they knew exactly what to do. It wasn’t until Samuel pointed out the places where God had helped them through struggles in the past that they remembered.
It was at that moment that the Israelites recommitted themselves to following God. Samuel erected an altar and named it Ebenezer, which means “a stone of help” (1 Samuel 7:12). This stone altar was a marker in their life that God was their stronghold and help. It was a sign of a fresh beginning and it says something important for us about remembering God’s love is everlasting. His grace covers every mistake, hurt or event we wish turned out differently. God goes with you through everything.
We sing about our own Ebenezer in the hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Read the words again,
“Here I raise mine 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.”
During Lent we raise our ebenezer’s as a way to remember God’s gracious gifts He gives us. We mark them in homes, in our church, and in our hearts as signs that God helped us then and God will lead us through the rest of our life. Spend some time this Lent remembering and setting up your altars wherever you go.