We need to raise more Ebenezers.
We need to raise more Ebenezers.
A Facebook memory from seven years ago reminded me of an Ebenezer that was raised in my life. Most people hear Ebenezer and immediately think of miserly Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. The Ebenezer I am referring to comes from 1 Samuel 7:12. After Israel recovered the Arc of the Covenant from the Philistines, the prophet Samuel used a stone monument to recognize God’s help for His people.
He named the monument Ebenezer, which literally means “Stone of Help.” He named it that because, “thus far the Lord has helped us.”
The classic hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing recalls that moment with the verse that says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come, and I hope by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.”
The Ebenezer raised for me seven years ago was a snowman.
It was a pretty good effort. My dad and my son built the snowman after a week of horrible weather. I had spent much of the week on messaging programs testing the limits of the internet cafes in Addis Ababa and our hotel trying to reschedule press times half a world away as snowstorms and blizzard conditions hampered my newspapers while my wife and I made our first trip to Ethiopia to meet Dawit and take care of much of the legal portion of the adoption process.
We had enjoyed each moment that we got to spend around Dawit and the 25 friends who lived in the orphan transition center with him. We weren’t allowed to let him know we were his new parents because it could be confusing to a little guy to meet is new parents and see them leave the country without him while paperwork is processed.
We got to play with him, talk to him, and even hug him as long as we showed the same attention to other kids in the center. That wasn’t an issue. A little girl named Ayat pretty well determined that I was there to play with her and let me know when I wasn’t doing something right. Shoschambo, Antone and Alemajo all made sure we were sharing plenty of time with them, as well.
We had also spent time in state run orphanages where we met orphans from young men and women to children who were only hours removed from their mother’s wombs. We held the hands of toddlers who were in a room sleeping two to a crib and refusing to cry because their wailing no longer elicited a response because the few workers in the facility couldn’t stop every time someone cried.
We fought back tears in a room with orphans stricken with cerebral palsy, AIDS and other conditions that caused them to be separated from the rest of the population.
Then we returned home.
After 36 hours of travel including about 30 of that in the air, we pulled into our driveway in snowy Augusta, Kan. That’s when we saw my dad standing at the edge of the sidewalk and Blake standing proudly by his snowman with a “welcome home” sign. For some reason, Blake was saluting. I guess a simple wave didn’t feel like enough of a gesture since we were returning from such a long journey.
My parents had left Chickasha to stay with Blake while we were gone. Mom and dad took care of him so we could handle all of the tasks on our checklist that first week in country.
We were welcomed home by a snowman. That was an Ebenezer for me. Hither by God’s help we had come.
We believed then – and are convinced now – that adding Dawit to our family was a divine appointment for our family. At the time, we believed we were helping to rescue an orphan from a life apart from a family unit. That happened. However, every day we realize how much more Dawit adds to our family than we could ever give him. We were just starting to see that when we got home from that first trip to Ethiopia.
That’s when we saw the snowman.
That icy Ebenezer brought together the love I had for my son and the sacrificial love my father had shown me for my entire life. He and mom left their home to help us out. It wasn’t the first time. Even though dad worked two jobs and crazy hours, he always made time for his kids. That’s a lesson I learned and have put to use during busy weeks at the newspaper. There is no time to be tired. Taking time for yourself means making up for missed time with your family.
My parents’ sacrifice and the snowman my dad built with my son reminded me of the calling we were embarking on as we brought this child into our home - both the love he would need and the sacrifice he would require.
My father and Blake taught me that lesson the first week we were away in Ethiopia. I’m glad they raised that Ebenezer to be a reminder of everything God had done before, during and after our adoption.