As a church kid we would often sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and invariably I would laugh at the second lyric which began “Here I raise my Ebeneezer,” and despite having had it patiently explained to me that this referred to raising a stone memorial to the work of God, I could only see the image of some long-bearded old man in a long tunic being hoisted in the air. Because really, for a kid “Ebeneezer” is wasted on a stone.
Fast forward to being an adult. “Ebeneezer” means so much more. It is unusual and that makes it stand out. Those moments where God steps into our life and touches us in an indelible way needs to be marked. We need to have an Ebeneezer raised so that in hard times we look back and see this significant moment for what it represents: the God of the Universe stepped in and heard our cry and moved in our lives.
In my life there are a couple of these significant “Ebeneezer” moments. Once when my husband showed the full love and weight of grace and forgiveness that enabled us to continue forward on a path that let me truly understand how beautiful grace and forgiveness are. The second is when we were called into ministry in unusual and God affirming ways where God used what would normally be bad news to promise us a new path, hope, future, and children. No matter what we have gone through in the last 20 years, those moments are beacons in my mind. Touchstones of God’s amazing power. Ebeneezer moments are rare for a reason: while God works daily in our lives, those significant and often life-changing moments need to be standouts.
This year was one for the books. God stretched me and my husband both to the limits of our time, talents, and strength. We knew that we were exactly where we were meant to be, doing exactly what God called us to do, but we were tired. That bone-weary, deep-seated tired you cannot shake off. That tiredness where you must ask God for the strength and passion for each day. Which was exactly where God needed us to be. It was time to create Ebeneezer moments for us. He has his own story, but mine is all due to The Confidante and three wonderful days of a Pastors’ Wives Retreat.
In April God spoke clearly and said “Go” to the retreat. It took time for me to REALLY hear “Go” and to take rest and let Him refill my heart, but finally I asked the church to send me. And they did!
I cannot believe the anxiety that walking down the hall to the conference room produced. Then Patti smiled wide and greeted me by name with a hug, followed by Rodetta and I felt like I was home. Which felt great. But then – the “story time” broke me totally. God healed a place of brokenness that I did not even realize ran so soul deep. Telling each of our broken stories in 5-minute increments created a beautiful bond of sisterhood. Each minute of the rest of the retreat cemented these bonds and deepened the healing and rest we all so needed. Patti created a craft that really brought home what a touchstone/Ebeneezer moment this weekend of retreat was. We created “kintsugi” to represent the brokenness and healing of our journeys. On these we could place stones or gems to represent moments of importance. Doing this helped to cement how these Ebeneezer moments were incredible God testament moments in my journey.
I need to add a stone. To raise an Ebeneezer to the “Beautifully Broken” retreat where I came in broken and alone and left healed, refreshed, and with 21 new sisters of the heart. To mark this special time away in a group of women who all walk a similar but unique path. To mark how God and the Holy Spirit came into this group of women seeking His face. To mark how sharing our brokenness creates strength. This retreat is my new touchstone. Two weeks beyond it and I am still filled with His renewed purpose and peace. This was no ordinary retreat but an Ebeneezer moment and for that I am truly grateful.