Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
“Here I raise my 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.”
Heavenly Father, there’s no telling how many times I enjoyed singing the hymn, “Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing” before I had any clue what it means to “raise an Ebenezer.” But what a grace-rich gospel-soaked symbol an Ebenezer is. Though your people didn’t deserve anything; though time and again they often “wandered from the fold of God,” never-the-less, you delivered them from the Philistine army, and Samuel set up a stone of memory and thanks to your glory (1 Samuel 7). Because of your covenant love, you are the God who persistently showers mercy and lavishes grace on your ill-deserving sons and daughters, just like me.
We all have our Ebenezer stories (praying friends, think of yours as I share mine), but today I celebrate a whole scrapbook of memories and thanks as our church family celebrates two-and-a-half decades of your mercy and grace. In mid-November of 1986, you gave birth to Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN, and for twenty-five years, you have persistently proven the steadfastness of your love and the daily-ness of your mercies. How we praise you for the gospel of your grace! None of us can take any credit for anything good and eternal that’s emerged from our church family. It’s all of grace. It’s ALL of grace!
As in Samuel’s day, we’ve certainly had our share of attacks from various “Philistine armies,” for every generation of your people go through intense seasons of spiritual warfare. Satan hates your glory. Satan hates your beloved Son, Jesus. Satan hates your people.
But what makes the gospel so precious to us, is that even when we’ve acted like Philistines, ourselves during these twenty-five years—even when we’ve been “prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love,” you’ve never abandoned us, Father—you’ve never given up on us, or scorned us, or regretted adopting us. You have faithfully rescued us from all kinds of danger (including ourselves), and you will see to it that we arrive “safely home. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
As we begin the next quarter of a century (though we hope Jesus comes back before then!), keep tuning our hearts to sing your grace. Keep teaching us and transforming us with gospel sonnets. Call forth louder songs of praise than we’ve ever given you before. With cords of fresh grace, “bind our wandering hearts to Thee,” and to one another. We will forever praise you for “interposing” Jesus’ precious blood on our behalf; for we have no righteousness apart from Jesus. But in him, we are forgiven, righteous, sealed, loved… yours. So very Amen we pray, with fresh humility and great thanks, as we raise our Ebenezer’s today.