Tonight, the senior women’s bible study sat down around a table for the last time. While sipping tea, we thought, prayed, and rejoiced. Many had no idea what God had in store for them when they started their time at Berkeley, many had a much harder time than they thought they would, most are in different places than they ever thought they would be, but all recounted the faithfulness of God.
It’s often hard to transition - hard to leave the life you’ve known for the last four years, and even harder to say goodbye to the people in it. But Scripture gives us many ways to recount, reflect, and rejoice in the midst of change. I think God has given us ever-changing lives, circumstances, and seasons in order for us to depend on Him. In the transition we depend on his faithfulness, in the change we depend on His steadfastness, and in the fear we depend on His security.
For our last bible study we braced ourselves for the transition forward by rejoicing in the transitions of the past, raising ourselves some “ebenezers”. The word ebenezer comes from a passage in 1 Samuel where God had helped the Israelites defeat the Philistines. In 1 Samuel 7:12-14 the Israelites set up a stone as a monument which they called ebenezer, which simply means “stone of help”. These stones stood for generations, recounting and proclaiming the faithfulness of God to all who saw them. Israelites were not a people known for being faithful, in fact they often forgot God and worshiped other things. It makes sense, then, that they would need reminders of who God was and what He had done for them.
In his song Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson in 1758 saw that we are very much the same. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love!” Does this reflect your heart? It definitely reflects mine, especially when life changes, when things get scary, and when you have to step outside of what you have known. When my life is full of fear, faith goes out the window. I tend to doubt all things when fear takes root in my heart. Maybe you're similar. One might ask in the midst of transition, “How do we know He is faithful?” “How do we know His love to be steadfast?” That is why we raise ebenezers -- to remember the Lord and remind our souls where our help comes from. In Come Thou Fount he writes “Here I raise my ebenezer, hither by Thy help I come. And I hope by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home”. In other words, it’s only by God’s grace we have come this far and it is that same grace that will lead us home. He has been faithful, He is intimately involved with each of our lives. Recounting what He has done and what He has brought us through is essential to the Christian life. Raising ebenezer binds our wandering hearts to Him.
Here are some Ebenezers of three Senior Women who many of you know and love. Each of these women have had more ups and downs than they probably thought when they first stepped through Sather Gate, but now as they prepare to leave, they see the hand of God’s grace and faithfulness in their recounts of the past four years. I asked them “What was the greatest thing you learned in college?” Here are their answers:
“God is so worth your time, trust, and devotion. Every single period of transition, whether it was deciding my major or deciding what to do on my summers, I was blown away by how God revealed to me that He has the desires of my heart in store and that it is so worth it to seek out His plan - it doesn't mean you will have the answers handed to you on a silver platter, but He will walk closely through you in every decision process and you'll get to look back later and say 'I see what you did there God!!'" - Sarah Singh
“1. We cannot exaggerate the extent of God's love for us. 2. God cares about us enough to bring us on journeys towards intimacy with him, vulnerability with others, and boldness in proclaiming his name to the world. 3. Every good and perfect gift is from above, so we can boast in nothing that we do or have. Likewise, it is not our place to judge others.” - Lisa Ann (aka the LADY)
“The greatest thing I learned in college is to press into Christ with everything you have in you. To hold nothing back from Him and His desire to shape you into the person he created you to be. That oftentimes that process of refinement and molding involves a great deal of pain, and large sacrifices, but that pain and sacrifice is 100 percent worth it because we may have the world to lose, but we have Christ to gain. Make Philippians 3 your mantra. Remind yourself of the greatest and first commandment: that you would love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let that be true of all of us throughout college and the rest of our lives. Our God is a God of adventure — let him lead you into one.” - Samara Reed
Each one of these women has led many of the younger women here in Cru and each of them has built upon the foundation of our community that the classes below and the incoming class of 2020 will stand on. If I were to ask if these women have had an impact your life in some way, many in our Cru community would stand. Many of you probably have been impacted through their service and faith and don’t even know about it. What really matters though is that each of these women have seen the faithfulness of God. They have seen how He has led them, through trials and pain, through joy and opportunity. They were faithful and saw God faithfulness to each step they took. Each of these lessons they have learned are built upon circumstances that God has helped them through. These testimonies are their Ebenezer.
Though our hearts are prone to wander, its remembering God’s faithfulness, that bind them to Him. Just as in the song, Come Thou Fount, we recount that our hearts are prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love. We ask God to take them and seal them, for Him and for His court above.
As the year draws to a close, raise your own Ebenezer. Remember God’s faithfulness to help you this year. It looks different for each of us and we are all in process. Often ebenezers can be built after much struggle, pain and hardship but also much insight, maturity, and processing. But I pray that when you sit around a table for the last time with your bible study, you would recount how God has done more than you could ever have hoped or imagined in your time here at Cal. I pray that you would see how much you have changed and grown because of God’s Word, His community, and His help. I pray that you would strive to make Christ your own because He has made you His own and that you would count all things as rubbish to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. I pray that you would see where your help comes from and rejoice. Great is His faithfulness.