Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thus Far

"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 Samuel 7:12

This marks a very important event in Israel's history. This place called Ebenezer is the same battle site where the Philistines had defeated the Israelites many years earlier and stolen the ark. During the ark's absence, the children of God had once again forsaken the One True God. Without evidence of His Presence in their lives they had begun to worship foreign gods with total abandon.

And then they had a change of heart.

Samuel summoned the people to pray and lament before the Lord. Verse six reads, "So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord. And they fasted that day, and said there, 'We have sinned against the Lord.'"

I learned what this custom of drawing the water and pouring it out before the Lord is a symbol of distress and brokenness. Isn't that beautiful? These sin-filled people poured out their hearts before the Lord and He restored them. He forgave them. He reconciled them to Himself.

That's what He does for us. As we pour our hearts out before Him, emptying our heartache, our filth, our doubts and fears - God, in His mercy fills us back up with His goodness.

The Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah and planned an attack. Fear rose up among the children of God as they realized that their enemy was once again in hot pursuit.

Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel and the Lord answered him.
Jesus cries out to the Lord for us and the Lord answers Him.

"The Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel"
(verse 10).

It was at this point that "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.'"

"Thus far the Lord has helped us."

Know what this reminds me of?

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
Was blind, but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe THUS FAR,
And grace will lead me home.

Grace! It is God's grace that has carried us thus far, protecting us, forgiving us, healing and restoring us. God's grace.


Father, Oh that we could understand Your grace! Thank You. Your love is undeserved. Your love is without end, unconditional, and saturated with grace. We are so grateful, Lord. Thank You.