My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Friday, January 2, 2009

setting my Ebenezer stone in place

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood. —Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

An explanation of the Ebenezer Stone... this will help you put this entry into context:

After a long period of sadness and trouble, a consequence of Israel's disobedience, Israel repented under the leadership of a new priest and judge, Samuel. God restored their political security, and the people, for their part, re-committed their hearts and minds to their Lord.
Samuel placed a large stone at the place where this restoration began. He publicly dedicated it as a monument to God's help, God's faithfulness, God's eternal covenant. And as the people got on with their lives, the stone stood there, visible to all who passed that way, a reminder of judgment and repentance, mercy and restoration.
The Ebenezer stone represented a fresh beginning, a reversal of course for God's people. It also said something important about God: his mercies are everlasting; his covenant is forever.

1 Samuel 7:12 "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer saying, Thus far the Lord helped us".

This journey takes me through many winding paths, over hills and valleys and sometimes into deep dark caves. I am blessed to have people in my life who come and find me when I'm in those caves and gently guide me back into the sunlight. My sister in law is one of those people. Last Friday night when I was feeling really bereft (S.A.T word - Angie called and said, "how are you?" and when I answered, "fine" she had the determination to say, "No you're not". And so I wasn't. I spent an hour on the phone with her crying so hard I don't know how she even understood me.

The truth, as I've shared with you, is that Christmas knocked me upside the head and took me back about three months emotionally. A holiday is too great a magnifier for someone who is grieving. Yes, I'm grieving. Sometimes I wonder WHAT I'm grieving... but the fact remains... there is a genuine sense of loss deep within me. Most of the time I fill my life with activity and responsibility and don't have time to pull my hurts out and play with them. Sometimes I MAKE time to entertain the pain.

I talk to God a lot. Sometimes it's an act of worship. Sometimes it's a plea for help. Sometimes it's just me whining before the Lord. I do a lot of this talking to God while in my car driving the thirty minutes or so back and forth to work. He answers me, by the way... maybe not in that loud, booming voice that you might expect but in a still, small voice that places ideas in my head for me to chase like Alice chasing a rabbit. The whole "fear God" thing was God's voice. Today the voice reminded me about the Ebenezer stone.

(sidebar: I realize that admitting that I hear voices is like punching my own one-way ticket back to Looney-ville. I'm willing to take that chance in order to share this story with you. Do with it as you wish.)

I was raised in a two very old fashioned Southern Baptist churches. I didn't know then that they were old fashioned and maybe then they weren't. In those churches we used this thing called a hymnal that has pretty much gone the way of the Pony Express... where there are words to many beautiful old songs that have been sung, sometimes for hundreds of years in other old fashioned churches. Nowadays most churches (including mine) use the big screens with the words presented in power point. This doesn't help if you don't know the tune. I can actually read music (although I may not be able to carry a tune in a bucket, I know how many beats to hold the note and that if the note is higher on the staff that I'm supposed to sing higher and so forth... but this is all beside the point.) In the churches I grew up in we sang the song, "Come thy fount of many blessings"... it's a sweet hymn in King James English. Because it's in King James English, some of the verses were always a bit confusing to me... until I heard Beth Moore talk about the Ebenezer Stone.

Here's a youtube of the song... go there... let it just wash over you for a minute... it just fills me with peace.

Here's a blog entry with a woman talks about what she learned from Beth Moore about the Ebenezer stone.

I know I'm linking you all over the place, but trust me on this one. If you follow the links this will make more sense.

Beth Moore, by the way, is an average woman who allowed herself to be used of God... she has become an amazing Bible teacher. I'm about to begin another Beth Moore study in my Wednesday night class and *I think* we're doing one in our Sunday School class as well. (and since you're linking all over the place, here's a link about Beth:

Beth says, “God exerts an incomparable power in the lives of those who continue believing in Him. Nothing on earth compares to the strength God is willing to interject into lives caught in the act of believing.” -Beth Moore-

Sometimes we really have to just be still and listen to God. Sometimes we have to close out the noise of the voices in our head... you know the ones, the lies that keep being repeated in memories of this argument or that disagreement... the lies you tell yourself... or rather, the lies I tell MYSELF about who I am... the lies that I believed for so long from a man who could not have loved me and said those things. He couldn't love me... by his own admission... the words were, "I have tried to love you and I can't"... and although he didn't love me and even, by the end of our time together came to resent me... I let his words be my truth. I let him define me. Him.... this man who married a woman he didn't love for... whatever reason... and showered all his time and attention on another man's wife... I let HIM be the one to tell me who I am. And for so long his voice was the loudest one I heard. It didn't matter how many people told me they loved me... how many people encouraged me... how many people supported me... I could only hear him.

And all the time God was whispering some really incredible things about me into my heart. "Be still and know that I am God. My love is unconditional. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I sent my Son to die for your sins. You are my child. You are redeemed. You are forgiven. You are set apart. You have a purpose. You are chosen. You are blessed. You.... Are.... Loved.".

Isn't that what we really want? Love. Isn't that what we sell our souls for... what we compromise our values for... what we spend our whole lives searching for? Love. Isn't that what I spent those months of loneliness wandering in the desert trying to find? Trying to restore the magic of a love that never was and never could be while ignoring the Greatest Love of All.

There's a song out right now by former American Idol contestant Mandisa... I know, another link... listen to it, please, as a favor to me... again... it's another one of those things that just speaks right to my heart. I'll post the lyrics for you too... for those who like to read lyrics.

Some people try to listen, to the bottom of a bottle
Some people try to listen, to a needle in their arm
Some people try to listen, to the money in their pocket
Some people try to listen, to another’s arms
{Chorus}You and I are not that different
We got a void and we’re just trying to fill it up
With something that will give just a little peace
All we want is a hand to reach to Open arms that say I love you
We’d give anything to hear
The voice of a Savior
Some people try to find it with blind ambition
Some people try to find it where no one else has gone
Some people try to find it in the crowns of victory
Some people get defeated and lose the strength to carry on
Some people try to find it in the shadow of a steeple
Some people try to find it in the back row pew
Some people try to find it in the arms of Jesus
That’s where I found it, how about you?

So here's the thing... I have a choice... I can listen to the voice of a Savior or I can listen to the voice of someone who doesn't even like me, much less love me. I can be defined by the blood that was shed to save me.... or I can be defined by the one who tossed me aside like a week old newspaper. I can let the love of God wash over me and trust in Everlasting God... or I can trust someone who, like me, is just a mist. (James 4:14 - Why you don't even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.)

And when you break it down to those simple facts, it's really hard to dwell on the hurt any more. I have too much to do. I feel like my life has been divided into two acts and the first one was everything that happened up until the night I overdosed. (by the way, it's been fifteen weeks) Everything that has happened since then is intermission.... me getting a drink, going to the bathroom, refreshing myself and preparing for the second act. I'm ready for the curtain to go up on Act 2 and I want it to be SO much better than the first.

That's how I ended up with this Ebenezer stone concept. It's a line in the sand. A turning point. A place of victory. I'm setting my Ebenezer stone in place to remind myself that "the Lord has helped me"... and if God is for me, who can be against me? Who dares to stand in the face of immortal, omnipotent God... the creator of the Universe and argue with Him over who I am? Who am I, even, to argue with a God who tells me that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made". (see Psalm 139) All the character flaws that others want to focus on, all the blame that has been heaped upon me- that I have heaped upon myself... God says, "I created you". I am a work in progress. I am not who I am meant to be yet... but when I feel the sadness start to wash over me again I will look to my Ebenezer stone and remember who I am and who He is... and be strong.

God is good. I know that this is one of those posts that makes some of you shout for joy and makes some of you look for the nearest big red x to close the entry. I have to tell you honestly that this is a selfish post for me. It's all about me and my relationship with God and the healing that I am going through. If it offends you... hit that big red x (but I hope you'll ask yourself why it bothers you). If it blesses you, then I am doubly blessed to have "spoken" my heart.

On Sunday my ladies class is having a time of prayer. We're writing down our requests and taking those little pieces of paper - folded up - and praying over them together. I can't TELL you how excited I am for this special time of praying together with others. (so they can hear the voices too!) If there's something that you want me to list for you, let me know.

I hope that whatever your struggle is, that you'll set your Ebenezer stone firmly in place and remember that God helps. love and hugs, y'all!


Tina of Moon Shine said...

A divorce is, in my opinion, just like a death. You have to mourn it just like you would someone dying. So these moments when you cry over the phone to someone, or the holidays kick you in the gut, they are completely normal.
You have a true gift of ministry. I love the Ebenezer Stone concept!
take care

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing I for one need to hear this and sometimes belive God is specking to me though you... my life has had alot of ups and downs and sometimes I struggle to get though.. I no I need God so much more then I have allowed him to be a part of my life How selfish of me!!! You Have made me open my heart my bible and my soul Thank you Heather you are in my prayers and thoughts Blessings Kat:) please say a prayer forme God knows why!!! Thanks

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I've done several Beth Moore bible studies. I have one now that is one of the things to do this new year. I ordered it months ago and haven't taken the time to sit down and do it. It's A WOMAN'S HEART on cd rom so you can do it at home on your own time.
'On Ya'-ma

Jim Gant said...

The last verse of the song is:

O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be.
Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering soul to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, O take and seal it.
Seal it for Thy courts above.

God has made provision for all of us to come to Him when we are hurting and in need of encouragement. So even when your days are the darkest, He is only a short prayer away.

Love ya - Pop!

slj said...

Through God, I am finding my peace after my divorce. But even with Gods help, it takes time and the first Holidays seem to be the worst of course.
I think the breakdown moments,as hard as they are at the time, really cleanse our spirits. I have learned to embrace them and then move on with a sense of well being.
You have your faith and good friends and family. These things will help you make it through the hard times.

Emmi said...

wow ... what a powerful entry. Love the Ebenezer stone thinking.

Myra said...

God is using you as an instrument as well. Your healing is our healing. I've been reading you for a while now, and I've seen your ups and the are on the way to a better place. It may take you a while to get there, but that you've begun the journey is important. I agree, that He has spoken to you and has been there with you all along...and you knew it! Just didn't want to listen. EGO is when we Edge God Out (Wayne Dyer)...we allow us to get in the way.

Peaceful Epiphany said...
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Heather said...
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