Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
(from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson)
I have many favorite hymns, but this is one I love. Though I sung this song often as a child, this song is a staple even today at Ecclesia where I worship. This song is based on the following verse:
Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.” I Samuel 7:12
I have been a big fan of the Ebenezer (Rock of Help) even long before I knew what that word really meant. I have often marked meaningful times I’ve experienced with God with some sort of memento whether it be a poem or picture or a piece of jewelry. Whatever it is, the intention is that poem or thing would remind me, in tougher times, of the faithfulness and help of God.
One of the most important Ebenezers I have is a ring I’ve worn for about 8 years. It’s the James Avery Rose of Sharon ring (and to my knowledge they do not sell it anymore). I bought it in 2000, the year the wheels came off my life. My brother had been diagnosed with leukemia, I was severely underemployed, and as it was still nearly two years since I entered therapy, I thought I was losing my mind. I could barely keep a roof over my head, groceries were scarce, and I had to budget my trips to work and church lest I run out of gas. I was at the end of my rope for sure.
One day, after a particularly harsh lecture from a well-meaning friend about the state of my life at the time, I found myself at James Avery. I don’t know why. I had never shopped there before. I walked in and my eyes took me to the Rose of Sharon ring. I don’t remember what it cost, but I promise you, given my financial state, it was way too much. Still, I tried it on and tears filled my eyes as I said to myself, “no matter what, I’m going to survive this because God will. not. let. me. down.”
Somehow, I managed to make enough money to keep a roof over my head, eat and have enough gas to make it to work and church. God’s faithfulness sustained me through that dark time. I didn’t have plenty, but I had enough. I can’t explain my checkbook at the time, either. My paychecks were much like a little boy’s loaves and fishes that fed over 5,000 people. The math didn’t add up, but God’s provision did.
Even as my brother took his last breaths and then mom died and I opened myself up for several months of painful counseling, I would look at my ring, my Ebenezer, my reminder that no matter what, I was going to survive because God will. not. let. me. down. “No matter what…” became my anthem and the ring is still known to me as the No Matter What ring.
I have a new Ebenezer, something meaningful and… permanent. Last Friday, Good Friday, I got a tattoo as an Ebenezer to the place that God has brought me in my life. While a tattoo seems a little drastic, trust me when I say I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for at least five years and this particular tattoo since last summer. (if you want to see it, email me)
It’s the word “Sassy” in fire and water. It’s difficult to explain, but Sassy is the new me, the person I’ve always known I could be, and while Sassy isn’t a finished product, she is my future. I was given that nickname last summer and I like it. It fits me.
The water is symbolic of my element, my love of water, and what it symbolizes – cleansing, baptism, calmness, power, and so much more. The fire is symbolic of the passionate, fiery side of me, the part of me that usually wages war against myself. Fire also purifies – it’s creative, restless, and impulsive. Fire within itself is contradictory, as is water, and these two sides represent the two very different sides of me that I finally feel are in harmony with each other.
The most important thing I’ve realized is that this Ebenezer only has to make sense to one person. Me. It’s on my back, out of sight and viewable by invitation only (ha). It’s a very personal Ebenezer and one I do not regret at all. Every time I look at it, I am truly reminded of God’s faithfulness to bring me this far and to bring me to a place of balance, of wholeness. Even when I’m old and grey and it says “Saggy” and not “Sassy,” I will still be reminded of my Rock of Help.
I don’t know what my next Ebenezer will be, but I believe anything that helps me keep focused on God and that helps me remember Him in my times of trouble is a good thing.
What’s your Ebenezer?