Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.”
the old Testament is chock full of examples where God delivered His people. what’s always been interesting to me is the response of the people: they immediately erect a monument or create an altar to commemorate where God moved. it is as if, instinctively, we know how prone to forgetfulness we are. we must put something in our face, make a permanent change, rename a place just to be reminded of God’s goodness and love for us.
about 4 years ago, i was deciding to move to Arizona. there was a boy there i kinda liked, and a church plant i felt called to help with. i began to make the preparations to leave, which basically included selling or giving away all my possessions that would not fit into my car. i packed it up on New Year’s Day and waved good-bye to Indiana.
the next 3 1/2 months were horrible. i had a job but stayed for only a couple months. i was living with a family, but had no support from peers. the boy i was so in love with was turning out to not be such a good thing for either of us, and we eventually broke up. i came back to Indiana in April battle-weary and broken.
what began to surface in my healing were the still deeper scars i carried from my parents’ marriage. this included the patterns i’d learned to move in regarding relationships, the ways i ran from potential pain, how i tended to hurt before being hurt. as the Jeff Buckley song says, “all i ever learned of love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.”
so the breaking down of me didn’t just happen with one event, but over the course of about 8 months. it was a hard, bitter desert period. but the image that kept coming to mind was of a barren tree with one small piece of fruit growing on it, and the silhouette of a girl reaching for, but never quite grasping, the fruit.
as healing began to happen, i recognized God’s grace and love and movement through it all. and ultimately His encouragement of me to keep reaching for hope. the image of tree continued to come to mind and, though i’d never been one to consider a tattoo, i wanted to do something similar to my forefathers in the faith and “erect” a monument to all that God had brought me through.
i finally “pulled the trigger,” as a good friend put it, and got the tattoo. the silhouette of the girl was taken out; instead i placed it on my wrist as a reminder to keep reaching, always keep reaching. because hope is there. even when all looks lost and dead, life is happening.