“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” –1 Samuel 7:12
I heard a story once about a man who went for a hike, lost his footing and tumbled over the side of a cliff. Instinctively, he threw his hands out at the last minute, caught a branch and gripped it for dear life. Not sure if anyone else was near, he let out a shout, “Is anyone up there?” Much to his surprise and relief, a reply came back. “Yes,” the voice exclaimed. “Who are you?” cried the man. The voice responded, “I am the Lord!” The man’s heart leapt for joy. “Wonderful, Lord! What should I do?” The Lord replied with five simple words: “Let go of the branch.” After a brief pause and some quick discernment, the man’s response came back, “Is anybody else up there?”
I love that story probably because I can relate. Perhaps you can, as well. Don’t we wish our lives came with turn-by-turn directions like our navigational systems do for us today? Make a wrong turn? No worries … “Recalculating.” At an impasse and not sure which direction to go? Easy … “Rerouting.”
What I love about those navigational programs is that you never have to worry when you’re on a trip. It does the thinking for you!
Faith and following the Lord in unprecedented times feels a little scarier. Yet, what I have found is that even in those seasons, God’s not silent. We just need to remember and trust. Remember where God has met us in the past, and trust that He has our future in His hands if we humble ourselves and seek out His leading.
This past Sunday I preached on “raising an Ebenezer” as found in 1 Samuel 7. One thousand years before Christ walked the Earth, the very first Ebenezer was raised by the prophet Samuel. The Israelites were facing a battle with the Philistines and the odds didn’t look good. So what did they do? They asked Samuel to pray on their behalf and asked for delivery amidst the battle pressing in. So Samuel interceded and sacrificed a lamb, and the Lord both heard and responded to their prayers. Amidst the battle and uncertainty, God answered and delivered the people. So, in response, Samuel raised an Ebenezer. He raised that Ebenezer as a reminder for generations to come that God will always come to the rescue of those who humble themselves and pray.
Today, we look back and remember that on a hill called Calvary, the Ebenezer found in the Cross of Jesus Christ was raised. God, our Deliverer, stepped into the world and showed us His nature in the person of Jesus, ensuring we are not left to fight our battles alone. The power of the Holy Spirit is at work and leading us all on behalf of the One who sits at the right hand of the Father. This is good news, church.
Perhaps you’re fighting a battle today. Don’t forget to look back and remember where God has both met and delivered you in the past. Then? Lean in. What I am finding is this: a praying season is never a wasted season.
In His Grip,