A while back I picked up a book called, A Fierce Love. I can’t really say what drew me to this book since it is not at all something I would normally just pick up and read. It is a book about the author’s struggle after her husband of ten years (and father of their three boys) declared one day that he would leave her for another woman, that he no longer loved her, and in fact, had never loved her or found her attractive to begin with.
My husband and I have always had a good marriage with love and communication, so it was not our own struggles that attracted me to this book. I suppose I was simply curious as to what her story was, and how she managed to overcome such incredible odds and keep her family together. Even with God’s help, I knew that if it were me, I would simply fall apart.
Whatever the reason this book found its way into my hands, I am so glad that it did! Through reading this woman’s amazing story, I have learned so much. I have cried with her and laughed with her and felt the love of God with her. I have even discovered that I was not loving my husband as well as I thought I was and that the complacency I felt in our marriage is the same complacency with which I had been loving God.
I will do my best not to give away their entire story, as I believe it is a book you should read for yourself if you crave a deeper love for God and a whole, more fulfilling love in your marriage. There is one chapter in the book that I would like to share with you, though, because it has been on my mind a lot lately and if you never read the book, you should at least know this.
If you grew up going to church like I did you have probably heard the song, Come Thou Fount. In the second verse of the song, the lyrics state, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come. And I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I have known and sung that song for years with only a moment spared to ponder what on earth Ebenezer Scrooge had to do with anything. I had no idea what that referred to, nor did I take the time to discover that Scrooge really didn’t have anything to do with it.
In, A Fierce Love, I discovered that Ebenezer means “stone of help”. It is referred to in the bible in the book of 1 Samuel chapter 7. We find here that the Israelites were under attack by the Philistines. Outnumbered and in fear for their lives, they pled with the prophet Samuel to pray for God’s help. Samuel offered a sacrifice and prayed for protection. In response, the Lord smote the Philistines, and they retreated to their territory. This victory is recorded in verse 12: “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
Most of us know the miracles that God performed for the Israelites in their Exodus journey during their wanderings. The book of Joshua 3-4 finds them under the command of Joshua when they had just reached the Jordan River. Chapter 3:14-17 explain how, for the second time in the Israelites’ exodus, God parted the waters for this nation.
In Joshua 4:1-9 we find that God instructs Joshua to command twelve men, one from each tribe, to go and gather twelve stones from the Jordan and carry them into the camp where they would stay that night. This was to be a permanent memorial to the children of Israel to remember how the Lord had helped them.
The author of A Fierce Love says that what was notable to her about this story is that the stones were to be set up at the temporary camp, not at their destination. They were not in Egypt anymore, but they were not in the Promised Land yet, either. She called this the “Place of Crisis.” They were in an Exodus, the waiting. God wanted to set up a testimony of his provision along the way. The journey- before the arrival- was very important. That was the Israelites’ testimony. Just as the authors’ journey was her testimony.
So, she started setting up stones. (In her mind, of course, she didn’t begin filling her house with rocks, though my toddler would think that was great.) Every time the lord gave her comfort, she set up a stone. This far, God has helped me. She found an old diary of her husbands that proved that he had, in fact, loved her, even though he was trying to convince her otherwise. Set up a stone. He was still living in their home, despite his promise to leave. Set up a stone. God had shown her a clear plan of action. Set up a stone.
Just because you may not have reached your destination, does not mean God has not helped you along every step of the way, and he wants you to take notice of his presence and help!
I know our daily struggles may not be on par with the Israelites’ wanderings for forty years in the wilderness, but you can still raise your Ebenezer stone, your stone of help, in the midst of the little everyday victories you see.
Whether your problems are big or small, they are unlikely to resolve themselves without at least a minor “journey”. Each of these journeys has the potential to bring us closer to a God who loves us, and closer to each other, or they can make us blind, bitter, and lonely. It is all up to you and whether you choose to acknowledge Gods help along the way, or refuse anything less than a full resolution.
In what ways has God shown you his presence in the midst of your journey? If you look, I am sure you will find your own Ebenezer stones.