At church this weekend, we sang one of my favorite hymns, “Come Thou Fount,” but I noticed that it was a more contemporary version with one verse significantly changed. While I was used to this:
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
It had been re-written to this:
Hither to Thy love has blessed me
Thou hast brought me to this place
And I know Thy hand will bring me
Safely home by Thy good grace.
I love this song, and the rewrite is helpful in making the illustration clearer and easier to understand. However, I am always compelled to pause when I hear that line about the Ebenezer stone, because I think the imagery it invokes is so powerful, and I missed it in the newer translation.
Ebenezer means “stone of help.” In 1 Samuel 7 we read about the Israelites being victorious over the Philistines, and how their leader, Samuel, set up an Ebenezer, an altar to the Lord, to remember that He had helped them at that place. There, in that stone, was a tangible reminder, a marker, of the Lord’s power and protection for the people.
I wish this were a modern practice. I am always so encouraged to hear how God has been faithful in the lives of people in my community. Even more so, I know that my faith grows when I pause to remember and mark how God has been faithful to me.
The Lord knows that we are a forgetful people. That’s why He commands us to “remember” all throughout Scripture. When we remember, we take our eyes off our problems and worries and instead focus on the ways that God has been faithful to us. I’ve only been alive for 28 years and I have a multitude of things I can stop to remember that God has done to answer my prayers.
While I know what a great practice this is, I struggle to do it. Why? It takes little to no time or effort, and yet it remains at the bottom of my to-do list so often. For me, one obstacle is that I struggle with pausing my work and life to consider these things. As a (recovering) perfectionist, I’ve unfortunately bought into a toxic mindset that Julia Cameron describes this way:
“To the perfectionist, there is always room for improvement.
The perfectionist calls this humility. In reality, it is egotism.”
Dang. It can be so difficult to close the book, stop the brainstorming, ignore the email, go home for the night, when I believe that my work is never done. That perpetuating belief says so much about my sense of pride, and its amplification of my own importance really gets in the way of an understanding of humility and grace.
In fact, it gets downright presumptuous and prideful when I think that my work is so integral in the world that I just can’t stop and rest. And yet we read in Genesis that the God of the entire universe created and molded the world, but was able to say that His work was good and done for the day, and that He could stop to rest.
Maybe today is the day for us to start this practice. Today, could we stop for a moment and consider how God is in control, remember how He always has been, and be reminded that the universe (thankfully) does not revolve around our efforts? As you pause, may the work of God in your life be elevated above our own efforts, and may this faithfulness increase our faith each day, that we would trust Him more.
Take a minute and ask yourself some of these questions:
- Think of something you prayed for recently, what was the answer?
- Where is an area that God has surprised you recently?
- What friendship or relationship has grown or improved recently?
- What do you feel most grateful for today?
- What’s the most hopeful moment of your life thus far?