I’ll never forget the first time I heard it. It was my sophomore year of college and I was standing in chapel singing along to all of the usual worship songs. They were typical of the songs being sung by students in Christian universities all around the country and whether we heard them in chapel or sitting around a campfire while some wannabe Michael W. Smith strummed them on a guitar, there was nothing about them that made me stop in my tracks.
But this one did.
“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it.
Mount of Thy redeeming love.”
As I listened to the words I felt like I was standing at the edge of the ocean watching a wave forming far off in the distance. Slowly at first, barely a ripple. These words, these beautiful words, were meant for me. It was a time in my life when I was searching. Longing for something more, something deeper. Then I heard something strange. A part that didn’t quite make sense to me.
“Here I raise my Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I come.
And I hope by Thy good pleasure; Safely to arrive at home.”
Why on earth are they singing about Ebenezer? What could this song possibly have to do with Scrooge? Oh well, I thought. The rest of it is amazing so who cares if they talk about that classic Charles Dickens character. Maybe it’s just encouraging us to be generous!
Fast forward several years and I found myself standing next to my new husband at our new church in a new state and suddenly I hear the familiar words again. And yet it felt like I was hearing them for the very first time.
“Jesus, sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God.
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.”
Robert Robinson wrote this hymn in 1757 at the age of 22. The words are based on 1 Samuel and particularly the battle that was being waged between the Philistines and the Israelites. It reads like a scene out of a movie. The ark of the covenant being stolen by each side, plagues, idols, sacrifices, great thunder. Ultimately, God delivers His people and Samuel leads them to victory. In order to commemorate this moment, Samuel raises a great stone and gives it the name ‘Ebenezer’ meaning ‘stone of help’. From that moment on, whenever the Israelites saw it they would be reminded of God’s faithfulness in delivering them from their enemies and stop to praise Him for His faithfulness and grace.
“Ode to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.
And let Thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. “
When we think of wandering the Israelites definitely come to mind. Oh man did they wander! I did a Bible study a few years ago on the book of Exodus and I found myself feeling very judgmental. What was wrong with them? How many times did God have to prove Himself to them before they would trust Him? How could they so easily forget How much He had done for them?
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”
And then it hit me. I’m the Israelites. I’m ‘prone to wander’. Big time.
I have experienced His faithfulness and grace and generosity towards me time and time again and yet I still wander. I find myself in the desert not knowing which way to turn, whining, complaining, questioning.
I’m prone to that.
Here are the Israelites, years and years later, still struggling as they battle the Philistines. Still calling out to be saved. And what does Samuel do? He grabs a rock off the ground, raises it above his head and gives it a meaningful name.
They needed this ‘Ebenezer’. They needed a tangible reminder of how God had delivered them.
Maybe I need one too. I don’t like that I’m prone to wander. I wish I was always content to stay right by His side. But it is my human-ness, my sin, that pulls me away from Him.
And it’s that same human-ness, that same sin, that receives His abundant grace.
I’m indebted to Him for His grace. It’s given to me, to you, freely without ever expecting to be repaid. Imagine that!
A debt, which at the very moment it’s incurred, the only thing required of you is to receive it.
Which, of course, then makes it a gift.
So, I make my own ‘Ebenzer’ stones. My tangible reminders of His
And I say…
“Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it.
Seal it for Thy courts above.”
Jackie A says
Thank you for those words of encouragement Vanessa. I love that song, too. Especially that line. It’s the one that repeats over and over in my head.
Marty Walden says
So beautiful, my friend! I know I sing the old hymns without usually questioning the words and the one who wrote them. It is Well is a favorite of mine because of the writer’s heartache when he wrote the words.
I love the stones as reminders of the price that was paid for us. Thank you for sharing this reminder!
I love it when I’m right.
Beautifully written post.
Thanks for the inspiration rock star.
PS Love the Kleenex post. 🙂
Karen Grier says
What a blessing! We all need to have our memory stones to remind us of God’s faithfulness! I am an adult Sunday school teacher and I think we will study this and make our own! I also did a Bible study on Exodus and had the same reaction,but the Holy Spirit checked me on that real quick! Because I too have been prone to wander,but He is always there waiting for me! God bless you!!
Nancy Sharp says
Recenly during a Sunday School lesson our teacher asked if we had an Ebenezer. I had never thought about it. Thanks for another reminder during this season of Lent. I applaude you for sharing your faith. I’m new to the blogging world, but I am so pleased with the ones I’ve joined so far.
Wonderfully inspiring, Vanessa!
Lori Alexander says
My oldest daughter had this song played at her wedding. While they sang it, they both had their faces turned up towards the sun with eyes closed. It was a beautiful moment with powerful words
Such a beautiful, beautiful song.
Elizabeth Brooke says
A beautiful post. Yes, we always do need reminders. I am going to make my own set of stones. Thank you so very much! Hugs.
Now one of my favorite hymns has a much richer meaning for me. Thanks for sharing this great post! ♥♫
Melissa @ DaisyMaeBelle says
LOVE this post. LOVE that song. I too did a study of Exodus a while back and too felt like shaking my finger at those Israelites…only to realize that I’m an Israelite. I’m prone to forgetfulness. Which leads to wandering. Forgetting how God has covered me with his grace and mercy time and time again! Thanks for the reminder! Life to the full! Melissa
Julie Kimmel says
Love your openness and soul searching. I just saw today that only 58% of people between the ages of 18 to 40 believe with-out a doubt God exists. We have our work cut out for us. I believe that when blogs like yours post a personal view many readers who may not be following The Word will see your human side to this…..your witness! And it only takes a post like yours to maybe have one person take a look deep inside. Than you for being so open!
Jake's a Girl says
I too am “prone to wonder”. Thank you for His beautiful reminder.
Jill Carlson says
Thanks so much for making one of my favorites even more powerful. Love it and thanks for the blessing today!
Nici ~ Posed Perfection says
This is one of my favorite hymns. I always wondered what an Ebenezer was too. 😉 Thanks so much for posting this reminder of these truths. The “prone to wander” line gets me every time, because it is so true. Have a wonderful Sunday!
I too love this song, I often wondered what some of the lyrics meant. Thank you for sharing, it brings a whole new meaning to me. I will be sharing your enlightenment with my group of friends, and we will make our own Ebenezer stones. Thank you so much, God Bless!
I have often likened myself to an inattentive child who wanders off or gets separated from their parent while at the shops. But being the ultimate parent God finds me, sets me straight, forgives me and sets me on my way again. Thanks so much for sharing this. Really thought provoking. 🙂
Thank you so much for the post Vanessa. I have always loved that song and, like you, the words just seem to reach out and grab me. I love the rocks of remembrance. We all need those in our lives! Thank you for sharing your heart!
Heidi @ Decor & More says
Lovely post, Vanessa! That hymn is one of my favorites… how wonderful to be reminded of those words! Blessings to you, friend!
Claire @ A Little Claireification says
So completely moved by this today. This is one of my favorite hymns of all time – I have a lot but found myself singing along while reading this. I love your “Ebenezer stones”.
“I have experienced His faithfulness and grace and generosity towards me time and time again and yet I still wander. I find myself in the desert not knowing which way to turn, whining, complaining, questioning.”
Yes, yes. Thank you for always being such a blessing and inspiration, sweet friend.
Ashley @ 3littlegreenwoods says
By far “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is my most favorite hymn. Thank you for the remind that though we wander we can always turn back to Him. 🙂
Vicki Crowe says
Thank yiu for this today! I loved it!
Carol Reddin says
Thank you Vanessa! Your post warmed my heart! Mom
Julia G. says
Thank you for this much needed reminder. You are such a blessing!
What a powerful post and what an amazing way to remind ourself to be more aware of our own wanderings. I am definitely going to need to find four stones and pen.
Jeanette @ Creating a Life says
Oh, I love it, Vanessa! Last Spring I wanted to make an Ebenezer for my front porch. I knew it would be a daily reminder -coming in and going out- of God’s grace and provision for me and my kids. He has done so much!
Life happened, and I never did it, but you’ve re-inspired me!
Thank you so much for your beautiful writing and meaningful content today.
This is so me! I wander all the time. I love that Christ referred to us as sheep, b/c it’s so apt! I’m off track half the time, and the older I get, the more ‘wander-y’ I get.
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