Friday, December 30, 2011

Raising My Ebenezer

Yesterday, we celebrated Samuel Barrett's first birthday! This littlest boy of ours has brought so much joy into our home this past year, and I am so thankful for his life and for how he fits in just perfectly with this wild group of boys that the Lord has blessed us with! Barrett enjoyed every part of his special day, especially his chocolate cake...

Over the past few days, I have been remembering the day he was born and reflecting on all that the Lord showed me. I woke up early that morning last year knowing it was going to be the day that we met our fourth child. My devotional that day was based on 1 Samuel 7:12, and I knew that those words were just for me on that very special day. I could not have picked a better beginning to Barrett's birth day!

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen,
and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, 
"Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."

I loved Charles Spurgeon's commentary on those words. What an incredible reminder of God's faithfulness and what promise and hope for the days ahead! Perfect words to read the morning that Barrett was born and perfect words also to re-read as I celebrate his birthday every year.

The word "hitherto" seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years, or seventy, and yet, "hitherto the Lord hath helped!" Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health, at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea, in honor, in dishonor, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation, "hitherto hath the Lord helped us!"

We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves; even so look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys. Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received "hitherto."

But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes "hitherto," he is not yet at the end, there is still a distance to be traversed. More trials, more joys, more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers, more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories...

After I read those words, I knew that this little one (even though we had not yet found out the sex of this baby) was going to be another little boy, that his name would be Samuel, and that his birth was going to be a spiritual marker in my life! This precious little boy was my Ebenezer, my reminder that the Lord had helped me and brought me to this very day and that He would be my Helper for everything that the future would bring. Little did I know all the things that were ahead for our family! :)

In Old Testament times, the use of stones and monuments served as a reminder of the covenants that were made between God and His people. In this particular story in First Samuel, the Israelites had finally defeated the Philistines and had recovered the Ark of the Covenant. To celebrate their victory and to remember God's deliverance, Samuel set up a marker-stone, named Ebenezer, which literally meant "Stone of Help." 

Each of our children are a reminders of God's faithfulness and His mercy. They are blessings that Will and I treasure. They are good and perfect gifts from our Father! And in the midst of some challenging days and a personal struggle that I had been wrestling with, this fourth-born son of ours was not only a gift, but also an Ebenezer, a very real and tangible reminder of God's help and deliverance. In the delivery room that day, I told Will that maybe we should name him Ebenezer! :) We stuck with Samuel, which means "this child whom I prayed for" and Barrett for his middle name, which means "strong as a bear!" He was an answer to many, many prayers and truly a gift to our family! We knew that he would have to be strong (having three older brothers to keep up with), and our prayer for his life is that he will always be strong in the Lord and used mightily for Kingdom purposes.

Our family is stronger, our marriage is stronger, and I am stronger for the hard days that we had to walk through before Barrett was born! For many, many reasons, this precious little boy serves as a spiritual marker for our family! As we have been celebrating his life and thanking the Lord for all He has done, we are also trusting Him for the story yet to be told!

"Hitherto hath the Lord helped us!"

With grateful confidence and incredible hope, I can look ahead to all that this new year will bring...

O be of good courage, and with grateful confidence raise thy "Ebenezer," for - 
He who hath helped thee hitherto
Will help thee all the journey through.


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