So What’s An Ebenezer, Anyway?

Raising our Ebenezer is an act of praise. It’s an act of gratitude and worship and remembering that no matter what we’ve been through we didn’t get here alone. We were led, held, and carried by the God whose grace never runs dry. Read the full post at wearegospelgirls.com

Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” – 1 Samuel 7:12 (NLT)

“Come Thou Fount” is my favorite hymn of all time. When I meet it’s author in heaven, I plan to give him a total fist bump and “I feel you, dude,” because I relate to every single word.

There are two lines in particular that always stand out. The first is “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. prone to leave the God I love.” because even with all of my talk about Jesus, I am prone to wander. I’m so easily distracted by high stress demands of others or shiny objects that offer temporary relief it’s not even funny.

The other line is the one that’s always seemed weird to me. “Here I raise my Ebenezer, here by thy good grace I’ve come.” For years I sang that in church and memorized it just because it’s part of a hymn I love, but I didn’t actually know what it means. I assumed it was a weird 1700s reference and kept it moving.

One day in church our pastor’s wife paused singing long enough to explain. In the book of 1 Samuel we read about a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. The Israelites asked Samuel to cry out to the Lord to help them, and He heard their prayers. The Israelites defeated the Philistines, and Samuel placed a large rock at that place, naming it Ebenezer, which means the stone of help, so they would always remember how God had helped them.

Raising our Ebenezer is an act of praise. It’s an act of gratitude and worship and remembering that no matter what we’ve been through we didn’t get here alone. We were led, held, helped, and carried by the God whose grace never runs dry.

God has gotten me through more things than I can even remember – good things, hard things, fun things, and really scary things. And while one perspective might be why did He allow me to go through some of those things in the first place (this was the perspective I had for most of my life) the other is that this world promises pain, hardship, and troubles. Even Jesus warned us of that. But God continues to love me and lead me through every single one of them. He calls me beloved and hides me under His wing.

I was reminded of this the other day when the hubster and I carried heavy groceries four blocks home and four flights of stairs up in nearly 100 degree heat only to realize that we left his ice cream in the back seat. The hubster was already done for since he’d carried the heavier load, so I headed back out – four flights down, four blocks to the car, four more blocks home, and four flights up.

While I was walking I was overwhelmed with awe for what God is doing. My body has been through more than some bodies go through in their entire lives. It’s been through years of illness, hospitals, medications, procedures, and trauma. And still God keeps me going. He keeps my body moving, twelve blocks total, eight flights of stairs, all in 95 degree heat.

Someday I’ll see Jesus in heaven and I’ll have a perfect body. This one will be nothing but a memory. But for now God blesses it, even through the pain, suffering, and things it’s gone through.

And that is nothing short of a miracle. That is the grace of God. That is worth raising an Ebenezer.

Original photo of Smiling Young Woman by Ambro from freedigitalphotos.net. Adapted by Stephanie Oh.

Related Verses

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 (NLT)

He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
– Psalm 91:4 (NLT)

Guard me as you would guard your own eyes.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Protect me from wicked people who attack me,
from murderous enemies who surround me.
– Psalm 17:8-9 (NLT)

What comes to your mind when you think of God’s help? Do you have a favorite Psalm?

P.S. more good stuff

Courtney shared her thoughts on “Come Thou Fount” on her blog, Growing is Beautiful.

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10 comments

  1. This has always been one of my favorite hymns, as well, and I remember learning the meaning a few years back. I think that’s what I love about hymns so much more than praise songs; the unspoken language of the hymns. For example, the battle hymn of the republic….not just a hymn but it was written around the time of the Civil War and was a song the soldiers would sing around the camp. These songs stick around for a reason, I think it is the purity and understanding of faith in Christ that keep these lyrics touching our hearts…even hundreds of years later. That’s the power of a song, and the power of the Spirit.

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    1. Jennee, yes I totally agree! So many hymns really cut to the heart of our love for Christ, and just capture it in such a beautiful way. “How Great Thou Art” is another one that gets me every time.

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  2. What a great post to help us remember……….God is always by our side. I got tired thinking about your journey for the groceries let alone the ice cream! Way to go girl!

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    1. Thanks, Renee! I kept thinking of your Memorial Box Monday as I was writing and thinking what a cool way to “build” a stone of remembrance.

      I don’t know how God kept my feet moving, but He did. When I realized what He was doing I couldn’t help but praise Him.

      Sent from my iPhone

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  3. I too adore that song and it is because of the wandering line. How is it so easy to wander from Him?!? You would think that my heart would just stay there but it is sooo prone to wander. Thanks for the explanation of what that line means!

    Before I finished reading I already was thinking how amazing it was that you were walking/climbing all those stairs. God is good!

    Last year my doctor told me to go home and read Deuteronomy 8. Which goes along with the remembrance thing. He told me that as God was taking me into the promise land that I need to not forget Who took care of me/provided for me all these years in the desert of my illness.

    Great post to wake up to and read:)

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    1. Krystle, I totally can’t get over what your doctor said. Absolutely love it. That’s powerful stuff!

      I hear you on the wandering. I also ask myself why?? It’s scary how much our human nature takes over sometimes. Thank God for the Spirit to bring us back. Sometimes I feel like the Energizer Bunny and He’s my batteries. He just keeps me going. 🙂 It blows my mind, and I love Him for it.

      XO.

      Sent from my iPhone

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      1. Ya it blew me away when my doctor said that to me. It was one of those moments where time felt it had stopped and he looked at me seriously and everything in me stopped and heard. The moment is burned into my mind. I’m so blessed to have a doctor, and now 2, where God’s presence goes before me, and when I get to my appointments God uses them to speak to me. I seriously look forward to my appointments because of that. I always feel so close to God on those days and blown away.:)

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  4. Come Thou Fount is one of my most favorite hymns, too! I didn’t grow up singing a lot of hymns and didn’t learn this one until my early 20s. But I loved it as soon as I heard it, even though I realize now how little of it I understood. It was when I began keeping a gratitude journal (inspired by Ann Voskamps “One Thousand Gifts”) a few years ago that I really began to know God as the Fount of Every Blessing and to understand experientially what it is to be a indebted to Grace. And the wandering? Yes. I know the wandering. And perhaps that is why I sing this song so often, praying “bind my wandering heart to Thee.” I wrote a post on Come Thou Font and my new understanding of it in light of the gratitude journey a couple years back if you ever want to read more: http://www.growingisbeautiful.com/2011/05/fountain-and-blessing.html

    Praising God with you for the renewing of your body. Especially today as I’m paying the price for pushing mine too hard yesterday. Thankful for progress, even when there’s still a long way to go. And even more thankful to be sharing the healing road with so many beautiful people like you!

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    1. Courtney, love your post on this! I’m going to add a link to this post. I also just learned this song as an adult and feel like I’m learning more about it every year.

      I still pay the price for pushing my body too hard, but I’m grateful God keeps me going and keeps reminding me to slow down, be still, and let Him be my healer. So thankful to be on the path with you and the beautiful friends God’s put in my life, too!

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