Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Here I raise mine Ebenezer

And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer,saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” (1 Sam. 7:11-12)

And so it is 2008.

2007 held much to be thankful for, joys and victories both. We entered the strange world of raising a teenager with my oldest son's thirteenth birthday. I saw my name in print, as in a magazine byline. I visited DC, a trip I've wanted to take for years. I compiled and submitted my first (and only) book proposal, only to get a taste of the true writing experience upon receipt of a rejection letter. My Bible study group grew from a Bible study to a community marked by honesty and transparency. My son's soccer team won the area championship.

Joys. Victories. Both too many to enumerate, to the praise of God's glorious grace. I saw God move in amazing ways, my head still spinning at the perfection of His timing and His plan. He has truly done more than I could have asked or imagined.

But I cannot look back on 2007 and mark it as a year of triumph. Rather, there were those times my faith was challenged and stretched thin, so thin I feared it might break, and perhaps maybe it did. Those times I doubted God's goodness and faithfulness. Those times I was shocked. Hurt. Disappointed. Angry. Betrayed.

I've seen victory. I've known defeat.

My goal last year went something like this:
Sure, I have things I am believing Him for, things requiring direction and wisdom, circumstances where I long to see Him move, areas of my life that I am waiting on Him...and waiting on Him...and waiting on Him...And it is easy to make my life, my new year, about those things. To fix my eyes on the race marked out instead of fixing them on Jesus (Heb. 12:2). But I don't want 2007 to be about the pursuit of discipline or direction or even ministry. I want 2007 to be about Jesus and me following hard after Him.
As I wrote those words, full of the promise and anticipation a new year brings, little did I know what the year held in store. Just the other day my husband and I made the comment that if someone had told us that _________ or __________would happen, we would have never believed them. Never.

Yes, 2007 held more...and less...than I could have imagined. And isn't that life? Joy and sadness, victory and defeat, gain and loss? Life is, in a word, unpredictable. Our only constant in all the crazy unpredictability that swirls around us is the unchanging nature of our great and glorious God.

And so here at the end of 2007 I raise my Ebenezer, my stone of remembrance, and I say, "This far the Lord has helped me." This far He has brought me. This far He has led me and carried me and sustained me, showing Himself faithful over and over and over again.

Sure, the path has taken me to places and experiences I would not have chosen, but it has also taken me to places of overwhelming joy in the One who cannot and will not forsake His people. He is good, and His grace to me, the least of these, is amazing.

As we find ourselves at the start of 2008, I wish for you the joy that is found only in Jesus. As was my desire in 2007, may this year be marked by one thing: Jesus Christ, and Him alone! May He alone be glorified in our victories, and exalted even in our defeats. May we determine that whatever 2008 brings, we will place our confidence in Christ alone.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 3:13-14

12 comments:

  1. Amen.

    I count it a mercy that we do not know all that tomorrow holds. But Jesus is our faithful, covenant Friend, and so we place our confidence in Him, looking back to remember His faithfulness and looking forward knowing He will sustain us!

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  2. same here..if i'd had any idea the sad things, the bad things, the glad things - i would have cried, chuckled, denied it all..

    but thank God who has a greater imagination than me! For one thing, he introduced me to my twin and for that i'll ever be grateful! ;)

    Lisa the Second

    p.s. getting excited about our weekend! we need to get together before then...

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  3. Dear Lisa~
    I am right with you sweet sister raising my Ebenezer and saying Lord make me too uncomfortable to stay where I'm at. I think we are cut from the same cloth as you might see in my last post.
    Keep writing!
    Did you see my comment where my assistant/ running partner/ sisterfriend just told me that you are one of her favorite bloggers of all time???

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  4. I feel like you are such a kindred spirit Lisa. I, too, desire to passionately pursue Christ as I know He pursues me. Thank you for your encouragement to me in 2007!

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  5. Yet one more reason why God does not allow us to see the PLAN all laid out on our lives--we would be submitting all sorts of reasons and excuses for why _____ and ______ should or should not happen. To the praise of His glorious grace does He continue to perfect His imperfect saints. Thanks for the encouragement that this post brings.

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  6. So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. Gave you an award my friend...come see! :)

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  8. Amen and amen! He has been so faithful. I am resolved to follow harder after my Beautiful Savior in 2008!

    Kelli

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  9. Thank you Lisa for what you wrote. It spoke to my heart completely. Pressing on with you by His grace in the New Year.
    Blessings,
    Terri

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  10. Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing your heart so openly with us. You truly do have a gift with words. As usual, I love this post and I am always inspired by what you share.

    "Jesus Christ, and HIm alone!" I couldn't say it better myself.

    Blessings!

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  11. So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

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