Here I raise mine Ebenezer. Hither by Thy help I’m come.
October 30, 2009. Ten years ago today, I was shaking and sweating, my heart swelling with so much anticipation that I could hardly contain myself. In four years’ time, I had been given the unexpected, undeserved privilege of attending college and studying piano with a renowned instructor, had essentially lost the ability to play the piano, had endured physical pain and tears and questions and no answers, had managed to practice enough to complete my degree requirements, and was now, in this moment, performing an hour-long undergraduate recital which could only be described as a miracle. The Lord had truly brought me thus far.
Ebenezers are monuments of remembrance. Celebrations of help and victory. Memorials to the grace and power of God.
But in the ten years since my miraculous performance, not much has happened worth celebrating. I’ve walked a troublesome road. I’ve uttered many a sigh and shed many a tear. The pain has come and gone a thousand times. I’ve been forced to distance myself from my musical loves. And here, ten years later, it all seems so permanent. I have a different job. I don’t play the piano. I still battle the pain. I still don’t have answers.
So, on this, the ten-year anniversary of one of the most momentous days of my life, I haven’t felt much like raising an Ebenezer. I’ve struggled to believe that the Lord has helped me. How does one celebrate ten years of disappointment and pain and sorrow? I’m not sure Ebenezers are supposed to work that way.
I drove to the cemetery this week to walk and talk with Jesus. My precious piano instructor,
Dr. Maurice Hinson, passed away four years ago, and there have been so many times that I have looked for his tombstone, but to no avail. I was sure I knew the exact spot of his burial, only there had been no marker.
But this week, I came around the bend, and there it was. A beautiful monument to this dear elderly man who had been so gentle and gracious towards me in those painful years and who had celebrated with me on that miraculous recital day. I remembered his jovial manner, his spry step, and those sweet conversations where he would grasp my arm and stand inches from my face when we spoke. He was a legend, and he so tenderly walked with me through some of the most heart-wrenching days of my life.
I stood at his graveside, overcome.
And in this unexpected, strange moment, I spoke into the silent peacefulness of the cemetery. There, with faltering words as stones, I raised mine Ebenezer.
I lift my hands in praise to you, Lord, for You are good.
Your great faithfulness has outlived the terrors of my night.
Like a tender, loving Shepherd, You have walked with me through the darkest valleys.
You have given me deep, abiding joy that, otherwise, I could not know.
When my strength was almost gone, You sustained me.
When I was ready to give up hope, You spoke into the weariness of my soul, and You lifted up my head.
Though I have suffered great loss, You have not forsaken me.
Though my heart and my flesh have failed, You have been my portion.
So, here I raise mine Ebenezer. It’s reluctant, it’s difficult, and it’s painful.
But hither by Thy help I’m come, so I raise these “stones” of grateful praise to You.