A few months ago I was approached to come and speak at a womens retreat in my hometown. One of the local churches had invited the women of other churches and they were planning to have just a day of it. Someone had shared with them one of my blog posts (this one to be exact) and they decided to see if I would come. When I asked what they wanted me to speak on they replied with a resounding, "whatever you want."
Okay. I know exactly what it will be!
Then, God changed my mind.
You know...most people want to read Jeremiah 29:11 and stop there. It says:
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
That sounds great.
But we should read verses 12 and 13 with it:
"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me WHEN you seek me with all of your heart."
That's a little tougher to swallow, huh? That puts some responsibility on us.
But while that lead me to what He wanted me to share, it wasn't WHAT He wanted me to share.
We all know the song, "Come Thou Fount", right? We are probably all singing it in our heads right now. But has Verse 2 ever confused you?
"Here, I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I come. And I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home."
What in the world does that mean?
And then the Lord took me to 1 Samuel. See...God had raised up the leaders of Israel and put them in their roles. However, much like we are today, the nation quickly declined morally. So now, they were under Philistine rule. Along comes Eli (a Godly man) and his wife Hannah, who at the time is defined by her barrenness. They pray to the Lord and He finally blesses them with a son...Samuel. Eli fathers more children who are in steady moral decline, but Samuel...ahhhh..Samuel. He becomes a prophet of God.
The Philistines rise up and fight and defeat Israel, so Israel says, "Hey...let's bring the ark of the covenant into our land and the Lord will protect us!"
And isn't that just like us? We think if we say we are a Christian and wear the righ clothes and say the right things and even keep our Bible in our back window then "the Lord's favor will be on us."
Well...the Philistines not only defeated Israel, they captured the ark. God poured out His wrath on them even as they attempted to move the ark from city to city. It eventually winds up back in the hands of the Israelites who do what is right and consecrate themselves to be worthy to keep the ark. THEN...does the Lord confuse the Philistines and the Israelites are able to claim victory.
But then...1 Samuel 7:12 says: "Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us."
Saturday I was able to share this with a group of women (and one CUTE little cowboy) and how the Lord had brought me thus far. And how easy it is when we are in the middle of crap to focus on that and not on what the Lord has done, is doing and is going to do for us as his chosen people. I declared each and every Ebenezer stone that He allowed me to share publicly...to raise each of them high and say, "The Lord has helped me thus far."
But where does this leave me? Still broken. Still wrapped up in sin. Still with holes blown all over my soul. But if I will allow the Holy Spirit to continue doing His work, he will patch my holes with stones that are precicely the size of the Ebenezer stones the Lord has given me.
So...can you look back and raise your Ebenezers? Or are you too wrapped up in yourself to notice them all?