On a cold, snowy December day, movers came to load furniture and carefully organized boxes for the drive from Lincoln to Papillion. It was with much thought, analysis and emotion that we made the decision to leave our home of 19 years where we raised our kids. Those four walls witnessed so much love, chaos and laughter throughout the seasons. So many of the memories embedded in my mind and heart were created there. So many unexpected challenges occurred in that house as well. It was difficult to leave the safety and security of a known and worn home. We were blessed with the opportunity to build a house to meet our youngest’s needs – bigger doorways, an open floor plan, and a zero entry walk in shower to fit his shower chair. We placed furniture, organized spices and canned goods, unpacked towels and cleaning supplies, hung clothes, and rearranged decorations.
Before we moved into this house, we lived in an apartment for five months after our house sold in less than 24 hours. During that time of transition, we prayed fervently for our new home to be a place of love and acceptance. For everyone who enters our home to feel the love of Christ. For these walls to be a safe haven where people can be real, feel accepted, and find peace. We gave it to the Lord and said, Your will be done with this home.
But where I found myself, where my thoughts and motives wandered to was a desire for perfection. Within only a couple days, I found myself needing to have everything just so with nothing out of place, everything perfectly matched and decorated. It was a completely unsettling feeling, and my countenance mirrored what my heart felt – stress over the very trivial and minor details that really do not matter. One of the internal battles I faced was over my kitchen table. For many years, we used my parent’s old table which had seen better days. It still had the knife marks from my younger days when I scratched my butter knife into the wood. It was banged up, bruised and glued together. Two years ago after months of searching and saving our money, we bought a new table I had eyed for over a year. This table in my dining room is one I waited so long purchase, and it has meaning to both Travis and me. It is a symbol of sorts – while not a need, it is a cherished blessing. So here I was, getting upset and critical of this table because it does not perfectly match my kitchen counters which are a beautiful mix of greys, creams and browns with specks of black. I wallowed in regret and mentally flogged myself for not picking countertops that would perfectly match my table.
And then I was gently reminded of those specific prayers we prayed for months on end. Where exactly does my table fit into all of that? How does it matter if the stain on my table does not perfectly match the kitchen counters? And why was I the only one seeing the “issue” and experiencing angst over this? Everyone else seemed to think it looks just fine.
Not long after moving in, my kids were here for a visit. I shared my heart with them, and how I was struggling with the desire of the flesh to live in perfection while my heart knew this is a first world problem that does not matter or even hold any weight of truth or relevance to life. And what one of them said to me was so profound – “Kim, this table is your Ebenezer”. I had to agree; this table is now my beloved Ebenezer.
What exactly is an Ebenezer? We have to look back to I Samuel 7 for context. During this time, Israel was attacked by the Philistines, but God gave protection to the Israelites. They won the battle, and Samuel, their leader, placed a stone on the battlefield and said to the people, “Thus far, the Lord has helped us”. The Hebrew word for Ebenezer literally means “stone of help”. Samuel set an Ebenezer on his battlefield – a stone as a physical reminder of God’s protection and help to overcome the fight. It was a constant reminder to all the Israelites of God’s protection and loving kindness over them that day. It was a way for them to pause and thank God for His faithfulness to them.
And so my table has become my Ebenezer. It is my reminder of God’s faithfulness in my life. And when I look at this table now, I see beauty. I see workmanship. I see God’s hand in my life. I see a battle won over the desire for perfection. The tears fall as I thank Him for my perfectly placed table to remind me life does not need to be perfect but should be lived with intention. I love this table, and the beauty it exudes because it is a picture of provision and protection. This “stone” where we gather to eat, to play games to converse and share our hearts is exactly that – a reminder of God’s help for our family. It is an integral piece of those prayers asking God to use our home to help others experience the love of Christ.
What is your ebenezer? What is your stone of help? Where have you seen God’s protection over your life? What challenges, hurts or maybe even selfish ambitions do you need to lay at the feet of Jesus in surrender? Where do you need a reminder of God’s provision and truth in your own life?
I Samuel 7:12 ~ Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us”.