If you’ve followed my writing for any length of time, you probably know that my thoughts often circulate on the way God uses memory in our lives. I love to think on these truths, because I’ve experienced the sweetness of God’s reminders so often. I’ve rocked my babies in the same wooden chair that saw tears and later thanksgiving. I’ve sung the same song in church through heartache, confusion,and grief. I’ve driven the same interstate Sunday morning and been reminded of the dozens of drives with toddlers who I force-fed crackers to keep them awake. The reminders stand as memorials of all that God has carried me through, and I can’t help but rejoice in their gift.
Hundreds of objects and reminders like these fill the Scriptures. God continually provided his forgetful people with tangible objects or celebrations to remember his character and works. On one particular occasion after the Israelites defeated the Philistines, Samuel set up a stone, naming it Ebenezer and saying “Till now the Lord has helped us” (1 Sam. 7:12). The marker was a reminder of the faithfulness of the Lord stirred the people to trust him for whatever future trials lay ahead.
You and I hold hundreds of Ebenezers throughout our lives. They’re the hymn that keeps popping up at important moments, the verse you’ve repeated through the mountains and the valleys, or the date that comes across the calendar each year reminding you of God’s faithfulness, even in pain. Yet, they can be discovered even beyond objects. As I look back on my own Ebenezers, the most precious ones are those that walk.
It’s the writer I messaged one afternoon, and later found myself sitting across from with tears rolling down my cheeks as she repeated the exact words I needed to hear. The phrases she said that day still echo in my mind years later. It’s the younger woman at our newer church who just happened to embrace me one morning, after I had been praying for God to help me in my loneliness.
It’s the women who randomly asked me to join a writing group, and who since that day have continually proven how their distinct personalities and histories are what I’ve needed in the years since. It’s the woman I was assigned to co-teach a class with, who became a particular help and encouragement through the pandemic no one anticipated.
How did these friendships materialize? How is it that random connections and pairings result in the very help, counsel, and encouragement I need exactly when I need it? The ministry of the people in my life leaves me no doubt of the care of my Lord. I often can’t wrap my head around the depth of his goodness and sovereignty when I see it. While the reminder of a song, a place, or a date can hold immense meaning—the way that God orchestrates one person out of billions to cross our paths for our good and his glory is astounding.
God doesn’t merely respond to the need of his children, he’s five steps ahead of us. Weeks, months, or years before trials come, he’s already moving—preparing us and preparing others to step in and be the help and encouragement we will need in the future. Just as in the book of Esther, his providence reigns over every piece of our lives. He’s making connections, forming relationships, and ordering our steps according to his plan. It’s no coincidence when people move into our lives equipped with the counsel, reminders, or help we need. It’s a gift from our Lord, who’s sovereign hand can wake up kings in the middle of the night as well as introduce two strangers.
This weekend I get to watch a friend walk down the aisle to a wonderful man. Our friendship blossomed in more peculiar of circumstances. I never expected her to become the pen pal that would fill my three children with needed encouragement and joy. I never dreamed that her experiences and testimony would be the very help I’d need to guide my own child through difficulties. But God did, because he gifted her to me—another Ebenezer, showing the sovereign care of a Father who not only moves the earth on its axis, but moves people and lives for the good of his children.
Who are your walking Ebenezers? Look around and see the care and majesty of the Father who sent them. Listen to them cry “Till now the Lord has helped you,” and take one more step forward, trusting in his continued faithfulness.