"Here I raise my..."
by Sally Queen
I love rocks and I collect them as souvenirs, so perhaps that is why I love the story of the rock that Samuel names Ebenezer in 1 Samuel 7:12. This rock is set out after the Philistines were defeated by the Israelites, and it was laid there to help the people remember, “thus far the Lord has helped us.” The name Ebenezer comes from two Hebrew words that mean “stone of help.” This stone of help is a reminder of God’s presence with the people called Israel. Samuel used a tangible object, so that the people could remember.
We all need visuals and practices to help us remember. I believe it is a spiritual discipline to attune our eyes and hearts to see God’s presence and provision. We are invited to remember “thus far,” says Samuel, “the Lord has helped us.” These words point us to reflect on the ways God has provided in the past and they give us assurance that God will be with us in the future. The second verse of the beloved hymn, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing says, “here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.” This verse serves as a reminder that God is the one who provides help and life. Countless followers have sung the second verse of this hymn, affirming their need for help and safe arrival home perhaps wondering what it means to “raise mine Ebenezer.” This verse is a direct reference to 1 Samuel 7:12 and the stone of help that Samuel raised. Raising an Ebenezer allows us to claim those moments in our lives where we have recognized God’s help and presence. Raising an Ebenezer helps us to remember.
Members of my church have an Ebenezer in their living room. A reminder to them of God’s help in their lives. They were kayaking in a creek that was nearly four feet above normal water level. One of them easily made it down a rough rapid, but the other kayak flipped and her paddle floated away. Two fisherman appeared and helped her safely to shore, and then they handed her a paddle. Interestingly, it was not her paddle and there was no telling how long it had been on the creek bank; however, it allowed her to safely finish her trip. The paddle is her Ebenezer; her stone of help and it helps her to remember.
In recent days, I find that God’s people need to remember. Our hearts break over the tragedy in Las Vegas and the devastation in Puerto Rico, and this morning we learn of a shooting on the Campus of Texas Tech. We need to remember: In the midst of violent acts of terrorism where innocent lives are lost to gunfire, may need to remember, “thus far, the Lord has helped us.” As hurricanes, earthquakes, and wild fires rage in destruction, we need to remember, “thus far, the Lord has helped us.” In the darkest valley and on top of the highest mountain, we must remember, “thus far, the Lord has helped us.” In remembering, let us be called to action.
Rev. Sally Queen is the pastor of Myers Memorial UMC in Gastonia