Here I raise my Ebenezer!
This past Saturday, I finally went to my first concert in Nashville (see picture with
my friend Susan)!! I’ve been to a few worship nights at my local church, but this was my first REAL concert with a REAL artist I had heard of in my pre-TN dwelling life. You see, before I moved here in July of 2019, I had dreamed of living in TN again for about 8 years! And while the first few months of my Tennessee-life were a bit rough, the last few have been less than ideal for most of the world (#quarrantinelife, am I right Matthew West?). So, while I had no money the first few months I was here (see previous blog post), I, along with the rest of the world, wasn’t able to go to any concerts these past few months.
And I’ll be honest that’s been hard. Music is important for this city that I live in. Music is an important way Christ-followers can connect. Music is an important way that I commune with God – it helps me process like nothing else can. For me, music has always been a kind of marker in my spiritual walk. Certain songs have marked specific periods where God has taught me something or where I was processing something with Him. For instance, a few examples of my previous playlists include:
Even If – songs to help me trust God during times of suffering,
Resurrection – songs to remind me that He is doing a new thing,
Brave – songs to remind me to be strong & courageous in Christ,
Hosea – songs for when I need a washing of Word-based truth, and
Remembering – songs for when I forget who I am and who God is.
And as I finally went to my first in-person concert here in the Nashville area, I was reminded that I needed some musical markers for this season. The two bands present at this post-church concert did not disappoint! Thanks to them, I was given two anthems for this season, and as they say in Tennessee, I am thankful y’all! The first was the song “Yes He Can” by Cain and the second was “The God Who Stays” by Matthew West. Both songs reminded me that God is faithful and that He is worthy of my trust. If I were to label the beginning of this playlist it would be called Learning to Trust More. As a person with some trust issues, these songs brought rest to my soul this past Sunday night. They allowed me to remember that God has been faithful, that He does not change, and that He can still be trusted in the future.
These themes reminded me of a passage in 1 Samuel where the Israelites were having some trust issues of their own. In 1 Samuel 6, God had brought back the ark of the covenant into their possession and showed the Israelites who He was – powerful and almighty! But they quickly forgot and in 7:7 it is recorded that they were “afraid because of the Philistines.” Ouch! They saw God work. Believed Him. Then forgot. All too familiar, eh? They were trusting in their own abilities and NOT in the Lord’s. Been there, done that – and it never ends well!
Thankfully though in verse 8, they recognized their need for the Lord’s help and called out to the prophet Samuel, begging him to beseech the Lord for their rescue. So, he does just that – he cries out to the Lord begging for mercy and for rescue. And the Lord delivers, and in an unusual way.
Samuel is there praying while the Philistines start charging, making the Israelites shake in their boots. But then suddenly “BOOM!” comes the sound from Heaven. Verse 10 says it this way: “the Lord thundered with a great voice that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated and fled before Israel.” Because of God’s act, the Israelites fought the weakened, confused Philistines and prevailed! After this, they did something important. They stopped to set up a stone of remembrance, or an Ebenezer (stone of help), which read: Thus far the Lord has helped us.
To summarize: They recognized their need for God’s help (v. 7-8). They cried out to Him for help (through Samuel – v.9). They saw God act on their behalf (v. 10-11). And then they stopped to make a marker and praise God for what He had done (v. 12). And because of their remembrance and choice to trust God, He protected them and restored what the Philistines had taken from Israel (v. 13-14).
I wonder if this can be true for us, too? When I look back on my life, I want to be able to have signposts, or Ebenezer’s, that mark my spiritual journey with the Lord. I want to be able to look back and say “Yup, that’s where I trusted God more. Let me tell you about what He did for me!” And for me, this can be marked through music. But maybe for you, it is marked by other things. What are the other ways that you mark your seasons of deepening knowledge of God? Maybe for you, it’s poems or books, or certain pieces of clothing, or pictures or foods even. I don’t know what it is, but what I do know is that it is a God-honoring thing to trust Him and to mark that in some way. Mark it down so that you remember. Mark it so that your people remember. Mark it in a way so that on the days that you are tempted to not trust God, you will look back and see who He is and what He has done for you!
In the words of Cain’s song, I, for one, am choosing to remember that “I know what kind of God he is and I’m trusting in His promises!” He is the God who stays with me and has always been faithful. I am deciding to trust that “thus far has the Lord helped me,” so why would I not believe He will help me in the future?!
How about you? What are your spiritual markers? How do you mark what God has done so that you can remember who He is and what He WILL do?