How many phrases can you think of using the word “raise?”

We can raise crops or kids, funds or salaries. We raise our hands if we have a question, and our eyebrows to signal a secret. Trouble-makers raise Cain. We describe scary experiences as hair-raising. We raise our voices, raise a Halleluia, and raise the roof. We can raise our glass to acknowledge a job well done, or raise someone’s hackles with an insult. We can raise a fuss, or raise someone’s spirits. But there’s one expression not many people use these days.

We’ve been singing the old hymn “Come Thou Fount” for worship again with an updated sound, and I love it. Whenever we get to the words, “Here I raise my Ebenezer” I can’t help but chuckle at the various responses. Some people are so checked out they don’t even notice the words. Others turn to their neighbor with a “what in the world is that” look; others try to maintain the guise of worship even though they’ve never heard of an Ebenezer. But a few know the scripture behind the song and the power of this passage. They sing with gusto.

If you haven’t read it before, or need a review, let me tell you the story behind the song.

There was constant conflict in ancient Israel; the nations surrounding the Jews made their lives miserable (kind of like today). Samuel led the Israelites in those days. They had wandered into sin and Samuel called them back to the one true God. Just after they recommitted their lives to serve only Him the Philistines surrounded to attack. Samuel prayed and God sent thunder that caused a panic and the enemy scattered. Israel defeated them. Then “Samuel took a stone and set it up…[and] named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’” (1 Samuel 7:12, NIV).

The word Ebenezer literally means “stone of help.” It’s like raising a glass and saying, “Here’s to God!” So when we sing “Here I raise my Ebenezer” we’re saying, I’m praising God for how He has helped, protected, led, blessed, and saved me so far.

I think about all the ways God has helped me throughout my life:

  • Through times of doubt and fear as a teen and young adult
  • Times of loneliness at college and a move far from home
  • As a young mother trying to figure out how to raise children without killing them
  • As a writer and teacher, wanting to honor God in all I do
  • His comfort and healing and after my husband of 20 years left me
  • For giving me hope when I wanted to die
  • In my move to a new community and a fresh marriage
  • Grace and commitment to blend families
  • When our son announced he was gay
  • When two of our children turned to drugs and alcohol; one threatening suicide
  • New opportunities for ministry
  • The joys of grandchildren
  • Miraculously answered prayers and narrow escapes that only God could have provided

And so much more!

The next time you sing “Come Thou Fount” in church, or hear it on the radio, I hope you will remember this post and pause to think about what God has done for you. If you were to set up a rock in your front yard and name it Ebenezer (your commemorative stone of help), what would you tell your curious neighbors? It would be a great discussion starter.

How has God helped you so far?

I want to do so much better at raising my Ebenezer. Not just raising my hand in worship at church, , but every day—at home, at work, on vacation, at the grocery store. I would never have made it this far in life if not for God’s incredible, unwavering, all-encompassing love and guidance. So here’s to God!

“Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here by Thy great help I’ve 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”

(by 18th century pastor and hymn writer Robert Robinson)

#God’sprotection #Ebenezer #helpfromGod #1Samuel7 #memorialstone #rememberGod