I sit here in the quiet after the busy hustle and bustle of the day. The noise has been quieted, lost in slumber. Little heads, exhausted from a day of preparation, are sleeping soundly, and I am waiting on food to cook before heading to bed myself. It is late. Way too late, to my way of thinking. I think about all we have left to do tomorrow. Reflect on what the significance of tomorrow really means.What is tomorrow? you might ask. Tomorrow is an Ebenezer day. A day our family has purposely set aside to remember and reflect on our Lord’s goodness in our lives. And we have asked friends to join us. To thank the Lord with us for all the things He has done in our lives this past year.
It is a yearly event, one we all look forward to. An evening of fellowship around a fire. Singing hymns to instruments that are played by everyone who is willing to bring one. Dancing. Laughter. Fun. And praises to our King, who is truly the King of Kings.
What started this? Why did we decide to have an evening where we set out to discuss the ways we have seen the Lord at work in our lives?
In 2011, our family was brought into a strange, yet wonderful providence of the Lord. My mother had brain surgery twice, my baby sister was born at 24 weeks gestation by the doctors who were trying their best to keep both the baby and the mother alive. The doctors said neither would live.
And if they did, it wouldn’t be a life of much value.
My mother wasn’t supposed to ever walk. Or talk. Or be able to move around by herself. Yet by the grace of God, she does all that. The only “side effect” from the surgery is that she is deaf in one ear.
My sister was supposed to be developmentally challenged. Never talk, walk, or see. And if she did, she was supposed to have a lot of delays and be “behind” her age group. Our God was gracious to her, and now you would never know that she was a 24 week preemie. And so my family began to think the following year. The Lord did so much in our church family during 2011 — He shook up our community, tested our faith, and taught us how to look to Him for every single need we had. Our community saw children run away, husbands who were not faithful, babies who died, wives who went to be with the Lord, and a tornado that swept through “the valley” destroying homes and bringing a faithful man — husband and father — home to be with the Lord.
But in the midst of all the pain and suffering, He was always there. “His grace is sufficient” and He taught us that. For everything He took away, He gave us something. Taught us a valuable lesson, that we wouldn’t have learned any other way. Though He took worldly possessions, He taught us that He will provide. He took away fathers — and showed Himself a father to the fatherless. He took children away — and showed us that He is sufficient. He took babies to be with Him, some of whom never saw the light of day — and taught us to be content in all circumstances. He took away wives and mothers from their families — and taught us to call Him blessed. He tore apart homes and families — and taught us to fear Him.
To honour what the Lord had done, we gathered in 2012. The Bible says to build Ebenezer’s. “He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children…”(Joshua 6:21) We are commanded to tell our children what God has done for us. To share our faith and our testimony with them. We are to speak of what He has done in our lives, and to “talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
And so we gather again tomorrow, to reflect on the Lord’s providences in our lives during this past year.How many times do we cry out to the Lord during adversity and never think about Him in times of peace? How many times do we thank Him for trials? Do you thank Him for the brain surgery? For taking the child you wanted to hold to be with Him before you ever saw it — almost before you knew you were carrying a new little soul? We can thank Him when we discover He has indeed blessed us with a life to cherish. We can thank Him when the surgery is over and done. Why can we not trust Him during times of adversity? When we are in the middle of it?
How many times do we seek to be close to the Lord in times of blessed contentment? How close do we get to be to Him during times of grief and mourning? Do you see the contrast? When we are tempted, tossed on what seems a never ending sea of turmoil — when we are brought face to face with the fact that we are, indeed, human, and can’t change eternity — when we find ourselves in a situation that we can’t control — we instinctively know Who turn to. The One that even the winds and the waves obey. The One that controls everything — has ordained everything — and we long to be close to Him. We long, with an innate, unsatisfied thirst, to be intimate with Him. We place ourselves — our very lives — into His hands unhesitatingly — because there is no where else to turn to. Should this be so? Should it be this way? Should I only trust my Saviour when I am faced with trials?
I can honestly say that whenever I go through a hard time in my life — and in nineteen years I have seen hard times — I feel closer to the Lord. I know that He is interceding for me before the throne of God above. I know He is at work in my life.
But during times of peace, it easy to be lulled into slumber. Into spiritual lethargy. To be thinking that everything is perfectly fine.
How sinful is this attitude? How can I change? Only by the grace of my Lord and Saviour. By myself, I can do nothing. I am nothing, on my own. So tomorrow, we will pause and reflect. Thank the Lord for what He has brought us through. Learn how we can better pray for each other. Tell each other the lessons that the Lord has taught us this year — from last October to this one.What have I learned? So, so, so very much. The Lord has been faithful to show me areas in my life that have needed to change. He has been faithful to show me ways that I have slipped into lethargy in my life, and in my walk with Him. Times when I have looked to those around me, instead of to His guidance.
He has brought into my life people who are willing to keep me spiritually awake and on guard and ready. Provide deep, challenging conversations at a time when I missed it and needed it the most.
He has provided people who ask questions that cause me to rethink what I believe and why I believe it. People who are not afraid to voice opinions and ask questions. From women’s roles to why I am not in college, I have been challenged to think clearly and articulate my convictions.
He has strengthened my convictions in a way that only He could have — even though it involved shedding several tears.
He has shown me the preciousness of life. How one second, all may be fine, and in the next instant — the blink of an eye — He will take a person to be with Him.
He has started new families, given new life. Several people who were daughters at home last year are now housewifely matrons. Some have little babies to care for.
He has indeed been faithful. He is always faithful. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever”, and is always deserving of our praise.
He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. How have you seen Him at work in your life?