Jul 13, 2014

Here I raise my Ebenezer - 7 ways to keep the faith in the face of exhaustion

Life can be exhausting.

If you are married or single, parenting or not, working full time, part time or a stay at home mom; life is exhausting.  It is the nature of life.  Not every moment.  Not every day.  But certainly often. 

How do you stay plugged in and focused on your faith in the midst of exhaustion?  Maybe you have on-going health problems, or your work is intense and difficult, maybe you spend all week dealing with demanding children day in and day out or you are struggling with a broken relationship.  All of those things can steal your joy

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is a hymn that I have become re-acquainted with over the last year or so, which was written in 1757 by a 22 year old British Methodist.  We (I sing on the worship team at my church) actually sing a more contemporary version of it, you can scroll down and listen to a similar version after the post. 

I am a lyric girl.  I love good song lyrics. This song has some amazing lyrics.  The title of this post comes from verse 2: "Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home."

Simply put, an Ebenezer stone is a stone of remembrance.  From the Hebrew it literally means "stone of help", or a stone that serves as a reminder of God's real, Holy Presence and divine aid.  When I am struggling with weariness, I often become self-focused, which quickly takes me away from God.  The irony is that I need God's presence to defeat exhaustion and find rest. I need an Ebenezer to remind me of how God has helped me in the past, so I can find the focus and faith to keep working through my current difficulties. 

If you came to my house, you will not find a collection of stones standing all over my yard.  Yet I have Ebenezers in my life.  Here are seven "Ebenezers" that can help you to remember God's power and presence in the midst of stress and exhaustion.

1. Talk to your {Christian} friends

Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God”

Christian friends are great for keeping your heart and mind focused on the positive in life (I hope).  They should be the first to remind you how God has helped in the past and can be a place of peace in the middle of life's storms.  If you are a Christian and none of your friends are believers, I suggest that you get some.  Friends that have faith in common can be a guidepost in the middle of your darkest night, leading you back to God. 

2. Stay connected

Romans 12:5 – “so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Being in an intimate relationship with other believers through fellowship and worship (I like to call it "Church"), is great insurance against weary moments.  I have a couple of friends who are also church friends who are the first people I call when I have a crisis, and especially when I am exhausted and weary in life.  They are great in those moments because they listen and they pray.  (And they will offer me a figurative kick in the pants when I need it too.)

3. Keep a prayer journal
Psalm 42:4 - "These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng."

King David in Psalms is a great example of the power of a prayer journal.  He was honest and poured out his hurts and fears and anger to God, but he had a written account of all the amazing things God had done in his life, and all the ways God showed up in his weary moments.  I kept a prayer journal for 4 years that simply had prayer requests and needs listed out, and when I thumb through I can see all the ways God answered prayers.  Humans are fickle and are quick to forget how God helps us, having it all written down is one more way to remember in the midst of stress or weariness.

4. Be in the Word everyday

Deuteronomy 11:18 - "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads."

The more you read your Bible, the more you will remember those scriptures when you really need them.  The more you "fix" God's words in your hearts and minds, the more likely you will remember them when you are exhausted, stressed or afraid.  Plus there are hundreds of stories of God's faithfulness sprinkled liberally throughout the Bible, which is another reminder of His constant presence and protection.

5. Remember that God is always there

Deuteronomy 31:6 - "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

You are never alone. Never.  He is always waiting to hold you secure in His loving arms.  When friends or a spouse fails or rejects us, God is still right there.

6. Stay focused
1 Peter 5:8 - "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

A couple of weeks ago my son went body boarding.  I kept my eye on him as wave after wave slowly pushed him away from our spot on the beach.  He was so focused on catching the next big wave, that he was unaware that he had drifted so far from me.  Soon he was 200 yards down-beach from I was sitting.  I had to walk down and get his attention and we walked back together.  Life is full of distractions.  Those distractions cause us to grow complacent and to slowly drift away from God on the currents of life.  Suddenly we look up and we are drifting far away from our faith and comfort.  Just keep looking up.

7. Tell your stories
Luke 8:39 - ""No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you." So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him."

There are many places in the Bible where we are encouraged to talk about the things God has done for us.  The more we do this, the more we will remember.  The more we remember, the better we will feel in the middle of a hard moment in life.  God works every day in our lives, we should take a moment to recognize His actions out loud to our friends and family, which will serve as an Ebenezer stone to those who hear. 

Listen to the David Crowder Version of Come Thou Fount here:

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1 comment:

  1. Hi AJ,

    I've often wondered what an ebeneezer was! Thanks. This gives clarification.

    Nice to "talk" with you again. :)

    Jennifer Dougan


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