One of the disappointing things for me over the last 10 years is that during the holidays when former YL kids come back home is the same time that Annie and I leave Indy to visit our families. I wish I could catch up with every person who has ever sat in our living room for campaigners or hopped on a bus to Young Life camp.
I do catch up with as many as I can and I love it every time.
In the Old Testament it says, Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!” (1 Samuel 7:12)
Every time the Israelites passed by the Ebenezer they would be reminded that God has been faithful before and he will be faithful again.They would be reminded that God is real and personal. The Israelites would remember that God is not distant and far off and that what the experienced in the past is still true today.
I hope that Young Life leaders are an Ebenezer for YL kids. Living, breathing, moving, pursuing Ebenezers.
I hope that we are a reminder that what they experienced at YL camp was real. That they are reminded that they are fully known and fully loved by the God who created them. I hope that ‘passing by’ your YL leader reminds you that it is Christ that offers living water that you may never thirst again. I hope it takes you back to our living room, not for nostalgia but a reminder that this life Christ offers us is still available to us.
I hope you know that Annie and I love you and care about you. We think about you, pray for you and talk about you more than you know.
I want you to know that my journey of faith is full of uncertainty. There are all kinds of problems with the church and with Christians. I am not denying any of this and likely share many of your concerns. But I am convinced that it is Christ that offers us living water, it is Christ that promises to never leave us or forsake us, it is Christ that offers us life to the full, it is Christ that offers a peace that surpasses understanding,
it is Christ who runs to us to greet us when we come home to him- no matter where we have been.
Don’t wait to be perfect or for Christians to be perfect to come back home.
*The popular hymn “Come Thou Fount” includes the line “Here I raise my Ebenezer”
This song is the source of two Ebenezer’s from my life. Every time I hear that song I am taken back to Steve and Elizabeth Sherwood’s basement with JJ Alberhasky leading us in Come Thou Fount. (You can hear JJ singing this here) Hearing that song takes me back to a time I felt very near to Christ.
It also takes me back to sitting in our living room in Carmel with a house full of Carmel High School students singing Come Thou Fount with Justin Branam leading us and Dean Weaver leading the group in raising their hands as if they were “raising their Ebenezer” As much as any time in my life this is when I felt near to Christ and felt like this is what God made me for.