By Bethany Mathis
Originally Published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 8
I’ve always said that my neighbors probably think I’m crazy. Almost every time I leave the house, I inevitably pull back into the driveway and go back in for something I forgot. I can imagine them watching and thinking “there she goes again.” I try to remember, and somehow I get so focused on my tasks at hand that I forget normal things.
I am also prone to be spiritually scatterbrained. Many times through my life, God has intervened and provided in ways that could only be explained by His sovereign hand. Even the times when provision could be explained in natural terms, I recognize that everything good and perfect comes from Him. I know and believe the gospel and trust what the Bible teaches about His faithfulness and posture toward sinners—but oh how quickly I forget! How quickly times of trouble bring feelings of uncertainty. How quickly my heart wanders and my soul longs for things of the world to bring security and hope.
The theme of remembering runs through the pages of Scripture. It is clear in the first few books of the Bible that God cares about the passing on of our faith, and He instructs His people to look back and tell of His faithfulness.
In Deuteronomy 6, the Israelites are told to teach their children about their faith and what God had done for them. Verses 10-12 says this:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he would give you — a land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant — and when you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
God is clear—Remember that these good things came from Me. Remember I am the God who brought you out of slavery.
Joshua 4 tells of God gathering the waters into a heap and bringing the Israelites over the Jordan River. He then instructs Joshua to build a monument out of twelve stones to remind them of what He had done. He even says that when their children ask what it means they are to tell the story.
In one last example, 1 Samuel 7:12 tells of Samuel taking a stone and calling it “Ebenezer,” which means “stone of help,” to represent the help that the Lord had given His people. Samuel had witnessed God’s help and faithfulness. He knew they would need to be reminded. He knew how quickly they would forget.
I love the old hymn that recalls this story saying:
Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’ve come,
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
In what ways are we “raising our Ebenezers” reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness? Joshua’s twelve stones and Samuel’s monument were tangible things that they put in front of their eyes. In Deuteronomy 6 they are told to place the truths on their foreheads! I once knew an older woman who would put sticky notes all over her house with verses and answered prayers. She knew her heart was prone to wander. She knew she needed to be reminded.
I’m consistently amazed by how God uses hearing from the generations before me to testify to God’s goodness. Through discipleship to the generations under us, we can be monuments that help them to remember. I picture myself with my arms in the air saying, “He really is good! He really is who He says He is! You can trust Him!”
Through some of the hardest times of my life, I have had to cling to the truth of God’s faithfulness. I’ve had to remember Egypt, David, Samuel, Ruth—in the center, Jesus—and sometimes through tears, remind myself constantly of who I know God to be. I have had to remember the ways that God has carried me through hardship. It has felt as though I’m in a storm, soaking wet, tired, beaten—yet clinging to a stone. A stone that represents the God I know—the God who promises an eternity for those who love Him. The unchanging God. The God who will make all things new. There our hope is found.
In times of trouble and uncertainty, when we find ourselves reaching for hope in desolate places, we must remember the times that God’s faithfulness was made manifest in our lives. Write them down in a journal, on a sticky note, on your forehead! Okay, maybe not your forehead. But do what you have to so that you don’t forget. Cling to the ultimate act of faithfulness in which He sent His Son to rescue us. The gospel proves that God tells the truth and that He is worthy of our trust in times of hardship. He doesn’t always fix the circumstances right in front of us, but He is always working on our hearts, strengthening our faith, preparing us for home.
I need to be reminded so often. My heart needs to be retold that He is faithful and good and worthy of my trust. Some of the times that God has carried me are painful and aren’t easy to revisit. Oh, but how sweet the stone that stirs up remembrance for my God’s goodness! May my stones of help make a solid wall that is built on the gospel of truth. May I never forsake the practice of recalling the ways He has shown Himself to be a good Father in the face of an uncertain and sometimes troublesome life.
Here I raise my Ebenezer. I raise my stone. I declare that He is good.
May we be women who remember.
Footnote: Lyrics taken from “Come Thou Fount” written by Robert Robinson