We did something rare for us last weekend – we spent the entire weekend, Friday through Sunday, in our hometown in Tennessee. Because my husband is a pastor, we spend our Sundays with our adopted church family, and almost never with our blood relatives, so this was a special treat.
On Sunday morning, we worshiped at the church where I grew up. Until I got married, Orlinda Baptist Church was the only church that I had called “home.” On this particular Sunday, we sat halfway back in the center section (not where my family traditionally sat – third row back, organ side). As we waited for the service to begin, I thought of all of the important milestones in my life that have happened in that little sanctuary. Here is where I learned to sit in “big church,” was baptized by Bro. Joe Evans, performed musicals led by Kitty Campbell, and was married to my best friend by Bros. Bill Vance and Bill Horner. We choose this church for the funerals of my maternal grandfather and of my mother. My earliest friendships were made here – Melissa, Joel, Ashley, Ann, Tera, and so many others.
As I have been thinking about how Christians are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world, our visit “home” helped me remember the ways that this little church taught me to do just that. It was here that I learned to send missionaries out into the world, as we commissioned Wayne and Linda Walton and Kim and Kathy North to international missions. Faithful missions leaders taught me about Annie Armstrong, Lottie Moon, Hudson Taylor, and others. Discipleship training leaders taught me the books of the Bible, how to memorize Scripture, and how to grow in my Christian walk. LaVerne Johnson faithfully sang with preschoolers every Sunday morning before Sunday School, and I learned that Jesus loves me, how to let my light shine, and how deep and wide the fountain of God’s love is.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
It is a good thing to remember all that the Lord has done before. We have our own stones of remembrance, or “Ebenezer,” when we have places, people, and memories that can point us to the ways that God has worked and provided in the past. The trouble comes when we insist on staying at our Ebenezer and refuse to go where God is leading today.
I hope that you have places you can call Ebenezer – whether these are physical places or memories of the way that God has worked. Remembering is important, and a part of God’s commands to Israel.
“Till now the Lord has helped us.”