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An Ebenezer Isn’t a Biblical Geezer or The Rosetta Stone of Our Ebenezers

An Ebenezer is a reminder or symbol of God’s presence at a particular time and place. It’s a reminder to ourselves and a testimony to others traveling the same path.
In 1 Samuel 7:12 Ebenezer refers to a memorial stone set up by Samuel to commemorate Israel’s victory over the Philistines. But, it also refers to the place where Israel had been defeated twice and even lost the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines. 1 Sam 4:1, 5:1.
So an Ebenezer is not only a witness to Israel’s ultimate triumph with God’s help, but a testimony to the presence of God even in their defeats.
Having been an agnostic at one stage of my life, there was for me a specific conscious moment in which I risked asking Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. I can, in hindsight, see God’s footprints in my life during my time of searching, so my moment of decision appears to me to be part of a process. It has also become obvious that letting Jesus actually be Lord of my life remains an ongoing challenge that involves being freed of idols.
At seventy-five I have collected a serious accumulation of both kind of Ebenezers, the victories and the defeats. I have come to the conclusion that the defeats are how we are stripped of our idols of self-sufficiency, so that the Kingdom of God can take root and grow within us. In fact, without the defeats, probably most of us would never die to self enough to accept our dependence on God’s grace, so that He can bring about spiritual victory in our lives.
Dying to self seems to be a protracted and recurring struggle in the spiritual journey.
I remember a local production of Agatha Christy’s play, Mouse Trap. It was my friend’s first part in a theatrical production. Unfortunately, her character was killed in the first scene. On opening night the killer was strangling her as she fell back onto a couch. But, caught up in the thrill of having her few minutes of fame, she simple refused to die. Each time she went limp and he started to let go, she revived, dramatically gasping and struggling to sit back up, prolonging the scene, until even the audience began to snicker.
I’m pretty sure many of our own dying to self scenes are similarly prolonged and oft repeated.
Our Ebenezers are our personal experiences of the presence of God in our life stories. We are different people, with diverse backgrounds and personalities, so in our relationships with God, He meets us however we are open to grace at any particular point. It’s a wonderful experience to find others with Ebenezers similar to ours, but sometimes we are disconcerted when we encounter people with very different experiences. Remember that God is not through with any of us while we are still breathing, and only God knows how to bring each of us to Himself. When we listen with open minds and hearts to each other’s Ebenezers , we can begin to create a Rosetta Stone for understanding each other’s spiritual languages. Then we can focus on opening to the grace of God in each challenge of our own journey, instead of wasting our time insisting that our way is the only way.