Unless you are an ancient Hebrew, Ebenezer is a strange word. You may have stumbled upon it in the Old Testament or a classic hymn and wondered about its meaning. It’s actually a name, and in Hebrew means help stone. Long ago, it was physically depicted as a single rock or collection of stacked rocks. How are stones helpful? You need to look at this from a biblical perspective to answer that. An Ebenezer is an altar to the Lord to remember what He has done and where our help comes from. Such an odd ritual is unlikely to appear in the 21st century. However, recognizing God’s grace is appropriate in every century.
The following paragraphs each represent a stone in my Ebenezer to the Lord. As you read through, please note that there are far more hidden stones where the Lord worked in my life, and I didn’t see it. But these represent some monumental ones the Lord was generous to reveal. I did not include my testimony, conversion, and rescued marriage, a massive stone I have written about elsewhere. This is also a relatively recent list, and as time goes on, I hope to add to it…
When we moved to the Forgotten Coast, we hoped to find a group of believers similar to our home assembly in Tallahassee. But unfortunately, we soon realized that home churches are not a reality in this sparsely populated area of Florida. So we decided to visit a small Baptist church about twenty minutes away — and I must say a Baptist church is the last place I thought we’d see. Yet, the pastor taught our daughters at a Christian school in Tallahassee, and we greatly respected him and his family. So we went. The church members welcomed us despite the fact we were not locals and we immediately felt the Lord wanted us there, despite the differences. Today, I see the Lord doing something new and exciting in Panacea. We get the privilege of participating in it.
In 2021, a close family member dying from stage-4 cancer called me during a layover at Atlanta International. Mike was in tears, alone, and gripped by fear. I prayed with him on the spot and reassured him the Lord would not leave him nor forsake him. Afterward, a nearby pilot, who overheard the conversation, approached me. He had piercing blue eyes, and a demeanor I’d swear was angelic if I thought such visitations were probable. He encouraged me to stay the course and keep doing the right thing with Mike. It was as if the Lord spoke directly through him to inspire me to persevere. Weeks later, I found Mike alone and neglected on a routine check. After calling the police, he was taken to a Hospice center to die shortly thereafter. The Lord guided me to encourage Mike in his last days.
Earlier in 2021, I traveled to Knoxville, TN, to see my mother-in-law at home under Hospice care just before she passed. I intended to return the next day, but Michele requested I stay another two days. I struggled with waiting, as I felt I needed to get back. Yet, my eldest daughter Bea told me to suck it up and do the hard and right thing. I conceded my selfishness and stayed. That following Sunday back home, a guest speaker at church shared how he grumbled about having to do something after a stressful day. His eldest daughter told him to suck it up and do what was tough but right. He did just that and shared the same conclusion on our drive to church that morning: A father who stumbles but picks himself up and does the right thing sets an excellent example for his children. This message was, without a doubt, beyond coincidental and ultimately an encouragement from the Lord.
Michele and I built a house on the Forgotten Coast of Florida in 2019. Unfortunately, during construction, our contractor Bruce suffered from a stroke. This set work back by months, and our timeline to get in would cost us. But the Lord wanted us to encourage Bruce and his family by taking the pressure off. So that’s what we did. A few months after the stroke, I came by the house to see Bruce working at ground level while a single worker was painting upstairs. As I approached Bruce, he passed out into my arms. Due to his size, I had to guide his fall to the concrete. I had no phone, so I could not call for help. When I tried to rest his head, he stopped breathing. So I held it up and yelled to the worker upstairs. He called 911, and Bruce was taken to the hospital. I later learned had I not been there, he would have likely died. Instead, the Lord allowed me to bless and perhaps save the life of Bruce.
Earlier in 2019, Michele and I were heading to a Bible study in Tallahassee. We were first in line at the light at the intersection of S. Calhoun and Apalachee Pky. When the light turned green, I had this overwhelming urge to pause and look both ways — which I rarely did. It was a saving urge because a car sped right through the intersection at 50 mph. A teen was on her cell phone and would have T-boned us on the driver’s side had I not paused. The Lord definitely spared us. As a side benefit, I typically look both ways now.
In the Summer of 2018, my brother Kent and I met to plan for an upcoming church conference. Part of the planning was to create a date for the weekend. After some back and forth, we landed on 11/2/2018. There was nothing special about the date; it just seemed right to us. For several months leading up to the conference, Michele and I consistently attended a small evening yoga class on Fridays in Tallahassee. But we missed the session on the second of November due to the summit. That night, a shooting at the studio killed two people. The Lord spared us.
In 2009, Michele and I left the Lutheran church to start a home assembly modeled after the first-century saints in the book of Acts. After a couple of years, we began to regret our decision. Around that same time, we struggled with our neighbors behind us, and the conversation around the dinner table did not put them in the best light. At one point, I felt convicted by the Lord to change our attitude and start praying for our neighbor. We did just that. A few months later, that neighbor, who rarely communicated with us, connected us to another group in Tallahassee doing something similar. We joined together and continued our home fellowship for several years. It turned out to be even better than we had dreamed. The Lord blessed our repentance.