I am not like Napoleon who Psychotherapist Alfred Adler said had an intense inferiority complex, but when I heard the gifted speakers and talked to editors and publishers at a Christian writers conference a while back, I felt like a sprout unsuited for the altitude and rugged slopes where Sequoias spread their limbs to the sky.
As I was leaving, a line from a song popped into my head: “Here I raise my Ebenezer.” Like the proverbial broken record, the single clause ground itself hour after hour into my brain. I could not remember what Biblical passage it references, and I tried without success to remember more of the lyrics and melody. After rising with the record still broken the next morning, I finally did what we do in modern times: I googled it. What beautiful lyrics I found from the first line, “Come Thou Fount of every blessing,” to “Here I raise my Ebenezer” and beyond. I had not heard that song in at least a hundred years. What was God saying to me?
The story from 1 Samuel begins during Eli’s day when the Israelites were worshipping idols and fighting the Philistines. They pitched their tents beside Ebenezer, but on the first day they went into battle, the Lord allowed the Philistines to kill many. Attempting to turn the tide, they sent to Shiloh to get the Ark of the Covenant. More as a talisman than in reverence to God who dwelled between the cherubim, they carried it into battle, but the Philistines killed 30,000 warriors including Eli’s sons and took the Ark. When Eli, the priest, heard that they had taken the Ark, he fell backward off his seat and broke his neck. The Philistines suffered during their possession of the Ark and when God plagued them with hemorrhoids, they returned it to Israel.
Having taken Eli’s place, Samuel called Israel to repentance and they worshipped the LORD only. When he called them together at Mizpah twenty years later, the Philistines thought it would be a wonderful time to attack. Hearing about their plan, God’s chosen people petitioned Samuel to pray for them. As he was praying, they did attack, but the Hebrew army defeated them.
Afterward, Samuel raised a stone “between Mizpah and Shen and called it Ebenezer saying, Hitherto the Lord hath helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). The word Ebenezer means “stone of help.” This stone served as a reminder that God had been with them and had helped them. It comforted them when they faced other obstacles because they knew when they served the Lord and Him only, God would be with them and help them.
After reading this story, I realized that God was saying to me, “Have I not given you what you need to succeed in the past and will I not do the same in the future?” Jesus is the consistent “stone of help” who secured my future on earth and in heaven when He was lifted on the cross. He will continue to enable me when I trust Him.
When we feel like a sprout, let us remember the purpose He has for us and answer His call. After all, God causes a Sequoia sprout to grow with time into one of the most massive trees in the forest. He will help us when we follow Him every step of the way and we will raise our own Ebenezer at the cross through praise.