Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson
Broken people think broken thoughts
Not long ago, I asked if we should stop calling ourselves “broken” and embrace our identity in Christ as “whole” instead. I’ve been mulling over this, as I tend to do. The thing is that I can’t seem to stop feeling broken, but I think I should. I don’t think that Jesus’ sacrifice is most honored when I see my identity as broken, defeated, or lost.
Some days, I wake up with a cloud over my head—and there’s no reason for it. I often meditate on what I should have done differently yesterday, or last week, or ten years ago. Lately, I struggle to stay sweet with my hubby when he’s asking me about my day, but he’s focused on his phone and computer while watching TV…the man’s a multi-tasker.
And I’m anxious. We joke about it here, but it’s for real. Like when my daughter went to a swim party for youth group, the last thing she heard me say as she got out of the car was, “I love you! No running by the pool!!”
Restored people choose good thoughts
I want to stop calling myself broken because I don’t want any permission to keep thinking such broken thoughts. Broken people think broken thoughts and do broken things. Restored people choose good thoughts in order to walk in newness of life. If we don’t allow God to change our thinking, how can we expect to live the abundant life that Jesus offers us (John 10:9-10)?
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2, NLT).
I was praying about this recently, and the Lord showed me that I have a great memory with bad habits. I can recall with exceptional detail the ways that people have hurt me—when I’ve been verbally attacked, when I’ve been abandoned, when I’ve been overlooked, and when I’ve been ridiculed. I’ve also got an excellent memory for all the mistakes I’ve made as a mom, the sins I can’t seem to shake, and the conversations that I’ve mismanaged/botched/bungled.
Whenever I have a free minute, I can simply pull up a mental movie montage of all my lowlights. But Scripture teaches:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil 4:8, NIV).
I was thinking about what I choose to remember, and it’s clear that this isn’t a biblical practice. I mean, I’ve known for a long time that the meditations of my heart should be acceptable to the Lord (Psalm 19:14)…and that I should think lovely and good thoughts (Philippians 4:8). Yet, I saw something new recently.
Our hearts build altars
and I am building the wrong kind of altar.
In the Old Testament, we see Israel building altars often. Sometimes they built altars to Baal and other idols, but a quick search on Biblegateway, revealed over 30 instances where altars were built to the Lord. People built altars to show thanks, to ask for help, and to commemorate what God had done for them. Sometimes these altars were built with stones of remembrance;
“Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial.
In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’
Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7, ESV).
Stones of remembrance collect in my mind. They accumulate and they build something. I believe that God expects us to stockpile the stones of remembrance that build an altar to his goodness. We are to remember the goodness of the Lord—his faithful kindness, his saving power, his extravagant grace. Like Samuel did after victory over the Philistines—he saw this as more of God’s mercy.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12, NASB
When we read in Scripture about “remembering,” we see that God remembers, too. He remembers his covenant, his people, and his great love and mercy. Remembering is tied to his faithfulness. He always remembers us because he is faithful.
The Lord wants us to be faithful to him, too, for us to always remember him. Remember how faithfulness is tied to faith? When we remember God’s faithfulness, we are filled with faith and love. When we remember hurts, offenses, discouragement, shortcomings, mistakes, and defeat, we are filled with pain.
Today, be like Samuel. Take a stone and set it up in your heart. Call it Ebenezer for all the ways the Lord has helped you. Remember. Remember God’s goodness. And if you can, share your Ebenezer in the comments.