Every December, mom used to take us to see the play, A Christmas Carol. It was her favorite. As a child, the appearance of the 3 ghosts was a bit terrifying for me. But, what I loved was the transformation.
A man with a heart of stone blinded by the love of money, was changed literally overnight.
He was reminded of the blessings of his life gone by, saw what he had become, and was terrified by where he was headed.
After the visit from the three ghosts, Ebenezer Scrooge’s eyes were opened and when they were, his heart of stone softened.
There is mention of Ebenezer in the bible, and it too, is a stone. The Hebrew word Ebenezer means ‘stone of help’.
In 1 Samuel, the Israelites also had forgotten, and their hearts had become hard toward God, forging idols and worshiping other gods. But when the ark of the Lord was brought back to them, their eyes opened, hearts softened, and they were reminded. They rejoiced and turned their hearts back to God, who was faithful and gracious, and gave them victory over their Philistine enemies.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
The hard stone that was once their hearts, was now a reminder of God’s goodness.
We too, need reminders.
During seasons of celebration like Christmas, it is easier to remember God’s faithfulness and blessings. But to keep our trust in Him through the daily busy and mundane, that is hard. We tend to rely on ourselves, and our DOing can blind us from SEEing both His people and His good works.
Samuel’s reminder was a visual one, and that’s just the kind we need too.
To guard against becoming Scrooges and remember the ways the Lord has helped us, I’ve started an Ebenezer stone, of sorts, for my family.
Using a simple 3-ring binder with sleeves, we put pictures and/or handwritten notes of things that remind us of God’s goodness and faithfulness. When one of us sees something in the shape of a heart, we remember how God much loves us. So, we take a photo, print it, and put it in the book. Other times, a prayer is answered, or another kind of blessing comes, so we write a note and put it in. Even in seasons of struggle or difficulty, we have seen how God used it for good, clung to specific verses, or simply felt his presence through it. We write them down and include them, as those hard times may be the most precious reminders of all. It is like a coffee table book that sits out, beckoning to be opened and shared...and remembered.
As we just finished a busy, yet wonderful season of remembering Christ’s birth, I can’t think of a better time to take a breath, begin a new year, yet continue to remember God’s faithfulness, not just one season, but the whole year through.
So, as we turn over this new calendar for 2020, consider setting up an Ebenezer stone for your family. Yours could be a simple notebook, or a box for notes, items, or photos. I have a friend that uses actual stones and writes on them with markers.
Imagine this could one day become an heirloom, passed down from generation to the next. What a treasure! The kids will love to be part of it. Let them write the note, take the photo, or add the item. Encourage them to record the ways God has helped them.
Whatever you choose, I have one request.
Before you begin designing the most beautiful Ebenezer stone (as I know some of you will!), would you first write down or find one thing for it? If you need a little help, I love the words of Samuel (from 1 Samuel 7:12): “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” It speaks of what God has already done, with a nod of more to come. And there is so much more to come.
Happy New Year!
About the Author
Sundee McDonald married Darren in 2001, after surviving the greatly anticipated year 2000 scare. Life with two boys proved to be much more terrifying! Actually, she loves being a boy mom, never shying away from a sweaty hug or gross joke. She has been with the Nest for over 12 years, still desiring to see and encourage moms in these precious yet challenging years. One of her favorite things is finding hearts as reminders of God’s love, and sharing those with others.