Jesus’ love runs deep – beyond anything I could comprehend or dream of, and the beauty of it is that I will never reach the bottom of it. While there are numerous stories I could share about experiencing a new depth of God’s love this year, the Lord used the words of my pastor, Elliott Cherry, and the passage of 1 Samuel 4-7 to deepen my relationship with Him these past few months.
The story begins when the Israelites were at war with the Philistines. During one particular battle, the Israelites were heavily defeated. “So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand food soldiers. The ark of God was captured…” (1 Samuel 4:10-11). This was a complete failure. The Israelites not only lost the battle, but they lost the Ark of the Covenant. In response to this, the Israelites turned to worship other gods.
It’s not until a few chapters later, the Israelites decide to turn back to the Lord – the Ark is returned and the Israelites defeat the Philistines in battle. “Then Samuel took a stone … He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12).
So what is so significant about this Ebenezer?
- Ebenezer was the name of the place where the Israelites were defeated and the Ark was taken. With this very same name, Samuel would make a monument and call it “Ebenezer.” Why? As Pastor Elliott said, “He was overlaying the very same place of failure with a reminder that the weight of their failure was no match for the grace of God.” AMEN!
- Samuel strategically built the Ebenezer on a hill, a place where they could easily see it and be reminded of God’s faithfulness to them.
But the greatest part about this story is that it doesn’t stop there. Many years later, God would defeat another enemy. Jesus will go to war on behalf of His people at the cross, which is a permanent Ebenezer – an eternal reminder of his relentless love for us. And although [the cross is enough] to demonstrate Jesus’ deep love, He still chooses to write Ebenezers into our own stories to demonstrate His relentless pursuit of our hearts day after day.
So this is why I made a jar. Inside you will find rocks full of names, objections, and locations that serve as reminders of His goodness, provision, or faithfulness in the present or past seasons. In the center of my jar you will find the word, “Relentless.” This serves as reminder of Jesus’ love that He demonstrated on the cross – that even when He knew our past, present, and future sin, our wanderings and doubts, questions and failures, He still chose the cross and defeated death so that we may live. Wow.
Allow the truth and weight of the Gospel to wreck you over and over again like it did me this year. I encourage you to create a tangible reminder—whether it is a jar such as this, a list, or another creative idea you may have—and place it in a strategic location, where you see those Ebenezers and cannot deny the deep love Jesus has for you.
Mercy Multiplied Outreach Team