To the top of this great, magnificent mountain I climb.
The journey home has felt long and hard, and in so many ways unending. But here I raise my Ebenezer. For by Your help, I come. An Ebenezer, the “stone of help” constructed by Samuel to remind the people that “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). A reminder of faithfulness.
With shaky hands, a body marred by scars from battles hard fought, I raise this Ebenezer. Between gasps of breath and sighs of exhaustion I scratch my praise into the face of each and every brick.
Though face smeared in dirt and fingernails cracked, I work to place each stone in place.
Here I raise my Ebenezer.
On this very mountaintop.
That it may stand through wind and storm, through rain and drought, through bountiful harvest and desperate famine. I raise this Ebenezer because I have come to trust that You are good, that You always keep Your promises. Even on the nights when I feel heavy with the weight of burdens long borne, I will lay again the stones of this monument.
I lay down the loneliness of years past. This stone, so deeply carved with a knife as sharp as the feeling in my heart when I felt I’d never belong. Yet, against all odds, You smoothed over those moments, instead rearranging the darkness to light. Like sea glass, smoothed by the consistent tumble of time, You have smoothed the harsh edges of nights spent longing for a place. So I raise this Ebenezer, an altar, that I might never forget this moment of faithfulness.
I don’t know if I’m meant to make my career in the world of words and literary landscapes, but I do know I am meant to write. Whether it is at the crack of dawn before work and classes, or with the accompaniment of the moon on the latest of nights. Through sleepy eyes and gulps of coffee I will perform the one task I know I must: write.
It is my worship.
And more than anything–more than anything–I must worship. I must worship in the best way I know how to. I have no doubt that He weaved literature into the fabric of my soul. I have no doubt my heart was drenched with a love for words before time began. It is who I am, and it is how I worship.
I have crooked fingers, which I find ironically beautiful. They used to bother me, the way the tips swerve off into different directions and refuse to touch no matter how hard I squeeze them together. But what a picture they are to me now. These crooked and imperfect fingers, dancing across the keys to their own symphony of praise, producing the worship they were made for. Broken sticks draw straight lines and all that, right?
So, I raise on high the gratitude that must overflow.
Even when it hurts.
Even when I’m angry.
I must remember to worship. Not just to sing, though my soul finds music to be the perfect mingle of pain and joy, waltzing together in melody in a way that only music can do.
But all the worship.
I must raise my Ebenezer, even if it must be raised with crooked fingers.
The climb feels relentlessly hard, especially when I fall into that monotonous rhythm of pressing forward. But it’s when I stop and turn around that I find the strength to continue. It is when I rest my gaze upon the trailing valley of Ebenezers raised high, climbing their way like vines up this mountain. Signifying the moments not to be forgotten. The times He came through. The promises He kept. The streams of mercy, never ceasing.
But it is not only for my sake that I build these altars of remembrance, though I most certainly need my heart to be reminded of the precious moments of sustaining grace.
But it is not just for me.
For the fellow sojourner.
For the ones that think they are alone in this climb.
For those whose feet are beginning to feel heavy, whose lungs are beginning to burn, whose hearts are beginning to fail.
A beacon of hope. A rough edged, imperfect, crooked hope.
Comforted by those who have been comforted. We build for the people that come alongside us, to direct their attention to what He has done. We build for those that trail behind.
These stories, with all their painful chapters, their bitter prologues, endless expositions, and well-worn pages, coming together into something bigger. These stories morph into testimonies.
Epilogues of grace.
What once felt impossible is now historical.
His grace was never meant to be silent. His faithfulness was never meant to be set on a shelf. It has always been meant for a greater purpose than we can imagine.
So we raise our own Ebenezer. We look back on them as reminders of what He has already done, that we may be strengthened in our trust of what He will do.
“Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by thy 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.”