Eben-Ezer - (Hebrew: אבן העזר, Even Ha'Ezer, lit. stone of help)
Nearly one year ago, I sat barefoot in the thick carpet of the Rock House living room and watched Titus vomit another meal into an over-sized plastic bowl. We were at wits end, feeding him through a tube that was taped to his ghost-boned cheek, ran up his nose, down his esophagus, and emptied into his unstretching stomach. A formula bolus was pumped through a syringe at the end of the tube, and as it pooled in the pit of his stomach, he squirmed uncomfortably, body readying itself to reject it all.
We were watching the slow wither, his energy waning until the light in his eyes was dimming tired and faint. He was a malnourished native, a passing soul, an emergency. We were frightened--all frightened--and rocking on the edge of the mantel, feet balling up the carpet again, and again, and again. I would like to say that I prayed the fervent prayers of God-ward saints in those hours. Truth is, I didn't pray much at all.
We made our way to Arkansas Children's Hospital where a good doctor said he was sorry, but he had no good answers--not really. There was an egg allergy, yes. There was a slight brain issue, sure. But these things didn't account for Titus' inability to grow. It had come down to prayer and luck; these were our last and best ditch efforts.
We were discharged, and I feigned offense at God for some number of months. "Why Titus?" I asked, daring a deified storm to materialize on the horizon, to rush up on me like an Oklahoma wall cloud and thunder-boom
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?"
That voice never came, in part because I had not yet endured the hardships of Job, and maybe in part because there was a kinder, gentler way.
There was a feeding pump. There was a special formula. There were slow feedings, patient feedings. There were weekly weigh-ins and checkups. There were the prayers of saints. There was the laying on of hands by the church elders. There were good friends who brought warm supper and supple wine. And slowly, we began to see real Goodness in the land of the living.
Nearly a year ago. Impossible.
Wednesday night I rocked Titus to sleep singing an awkward mix of pre-school silly songs and hymns. (Have you ever heard a playlist that included "B-I-N-G-O" and "Step by Step?") He began to doze during the second verse of "Come Thou Fount," and when I reached the line "here I raise my Ebenezer," I was struck by the notion that Titus was the personification of that truth. The sleeping proof of a meticulously patient and gracious God.
Ebenezers are real things. Do not doubt it.
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Allow me to segue with a bit of a flourish. Allow me to come out swinging.
I am growing weary of the internet and social media. There is the good stuff, no doubt. There is also the clanging clamoring, the ranting and railing, the shaming words. The words. There is no great lack of words for consumption. Words. Words. Words. There are Tweets upon Tweets and statuses upon statuses. Words. Status. Words. Tweet. More words. Status. Tweet. Blog post. My blog post. My tweet. My status. Advertisement. Tweet tweet.
And there is nothing innately wrong with any of it. In fact, some of it I quite rather enjoy, and some of it is rather useful. But at times I find myself distracted by the thought that it is my by-God obligation to be in the middle of it all--ah, the siren call of attention's center. And often (here comes the confession), I sacrifice content quality to dive directly into divisive, subversive banter.
Let's call a thing a thing. Let's find these lines of division and blot them out with a metaphorical eraser. Let's stop talking about people and events and start talking about ideas, about concepts, about Gospel.
What is it?
"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" -Psalm 103:8
The good book tells me that my God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. While I whined about the waning son, the Heavy Hand could have snuffed me out like a wick; he could have returned me to dust and ash. There was another way, though. Instead, he gathered the elements of faith, formed minerals from them, formed minerals into rock and rock into Ebenezer. Instead, he showed me his enduring patience with my lack of faith, and in time, restored it all gently.
I am thankful for my Titus. He is the reminder of my "Stone of help."
This is the Gospel--that while I was still sick and broken, while I was faithless, there was a patient and gracious way made for me.
“All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” ― Chief Seattle
The sections of today's piece may seem somewhat unconnected, but bear with me. There is a great pull to become wrapped up in the latest and most polarizing issue, malnourishing though it may ultimately be. There is a great pull toward sounding off. This is not a bad thing, necessarily. I think God created us with these sorts of bents (even if we misuse them from time to time) because, truth is, certain events need discussing; the words and deeds of others sometimes need a little vetting.
But today--if only today--I'm asking if you'll participate with me in a bit of redirection, an internet slight of hand. Will you use today--if only today--to raise an Ebenezer? Will you share your Ebenezer story out loud? Do it here in the comments, or on Twitter (140 character challenge), or on Facebook. Can we move away from the critical, divisive, issue driven internet? Can we participate in a better web for just one day--if only today?
It may not be your bag. If not, that's cool. But what if you gave it a shot? How would it feel?
Share with me your Ebenezer story. Raise it, and nothing else.