By Carolyn Steenstra
Have you ever been singing the song “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and wondered what an Ebenezer was? If you don’t know the song, the lyrics say: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.” It comes from the passage in 1 Samuel chapter 7 when the Israelites defeated the Philistines. It says, “Samuel took a stone and set it up. …He named it Ebenezer [meaning stone of help], saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” Samuel intended the stone to serve as a physical reminder to the Israelites of God’s goodness and faithfulness to them in their time of need.
Do you have any Ebenezers in your life? No, not the Scrooge type, the Jesus type. I didn’t know it at the time, but I received an Ebenezer from our very own MOPS group in the Spring of 2016. It was my first semester of MOPS, and I came at the urging of my sister, Kristine Humphrey, who knew that I desperately needed to make some connections (especially with other Moms).
I had just had my first baby, and my transition into Motherhood was far from enjoyable or positive. I was struggling. I thought it would be good to get out of the house, so to MOPS I went. I still remember pacing the hallway, EVERY meeting, with my screaming, colicky baby, wishing he would just give up and fall asleep. I can say with certainty that I spent more time in the hallway than at my table. And to be completely honest, I doubted the benefit of MOPS, made excuses not to go, and felt really discouraged about continuing to be a member the following year.
At one of the last meetings of the year, however, Rachel Hinz had brought in some Rose of Sharon seedlings from her garden to share with others. I picked one up (not knowing a thing about the flower), took it home, and planted it in a corner in front of our house, and waited for it to bloom.
My Mom and sister talked me into continuing with MOPS that Fall. Nolan, who spent the meetings in the Spring crying, went upstairs to the nursery, and I found I was able to actually talk to the ladies at my table. Amazingly (duh!), I found that I had quite a bit in common with those women. God was planting seeds of hope and friendship at MOPS that I could have never seen coming. Back at home, however, there was no growth to talk about. That Rose of Sharon stayed perfectly upright; one single stem, without any leaves, shoots, or blooms. Nothing. Wasn’t it supposed to look a little green by now?
Winter came, and my husband asked if we could pull it up and throw it away. I admit, it looked pretty dead. But for some reason, I wanted to leave it. Someone had told me Rose of Sharons bloom late, so maybe there was still a chance it was alive? I can’t explain why, but I had hope that something beautiful would come from that brown, lifeless stick.
And so, my first full year of MOPS came to a close in the Spring of 2017. I had made some great friendships and been blessed by the ministry and fellowship of our group. One early summer day, I found Nolan (1.5 years at the time) trying to rip out that Rose of Sharon from the ground. I ran over to stop him, and to my amazement, that darn “stick” was growing green things! Leaves, in fact! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Throughout the rest of the summer, it grew taller and looked more alive every month. Now, over two years after planting it, it has literally blossomed into a beautiful, thriving plant, full of white and deep purple blooms.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” While I doubted that MOPS would be of any benefit to me, God was already on the move and blessing me through it. That Rose of Sharon is my Ebenezer, my reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness to me; my help in time of need.
His faithfulness to us is unwavering. Psalm 23 says that His “goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” I pray that God always gives us eyes to see where He has been on the move, so we can mark it and remember, giving thanks to Him.
MOPS is an International Organization designed and organized to support mothers as they strive to be the best mothers they can be. If you have a child infant- kindergarten MOPS is for you! Mothers gather together for a time of support, fellowship, and learning.
For more information, or to get involved, click here.