Monday, September 5, 2016

A Check, a Billboard, and the Sweet Assurances of God

It was late spring 2005. I had been struggling in my walk with the Lord. I had watched God do incredible things in the lives of those dear to me but felt that I myself was overlooked. I prayed for weeks for God to make Himself real to me; I wanted to see Him do something great and powerful on my behalf. He did not come through in the way I was praying, and I felt discouraged. Doubts crept in. Did God care about me, too? Was He involved in my life? A comment from a dear lady in a completely different context reminded me of truth, “Amy, it’s not about you.” No, it wasn’t about me. In my desire to see God do something great for me, I was more concerned about my own desires than God’s will being done. I repented. 

A few days later, at an elementary spring concert, the principal announced that a number of us teachers would be going on a missions trip (our first) to Togo, West Africa to train teachers. She gave the names of those going on the trip, mentioning that we would need to raise around $2500 each. A parent of one of my students came up to me immediately following the concert and handed me a check. I was grateful; I hadn’t even sent out the first support letter yet. I opened the folded check, expecting to see maybe $100, but instead saw the number 2,000 written on it. Yes, 2,000 dollars! I began to cry. I tried to refuse such a large sum; she, in tears as well, insisted. I knew immediately, that this check was not just the huge sacrifice of this sweet lady, but it was the Lord showing me His power, love and care for me in His way and in His time. This was my Ebenezer moment, when God worked in such a powerful way, that I needed to set up a “stone” (or in my case a journal entry) to remember this moment. It was God’s assurance to me in response to my doubts, “I love you. I care about you. I’m involved in your life, and I am still the God Who does exceedingly beyond what you could ask or think.”

Fast forward ten years to the fall of 2015. I was on interstate 75 South, heading to my grandmother’s house in Cedartown, Georgia. I had planned two days prior to drive down this day to visit my sweet grandmother who would likely not live much longer. Yet now this day had turned out different than expected.  My grandmother had passed away the morning before; I was driving down to see my uncle and aunt, to be with family in a time of mourning. As I drove alone in the car, questions assailed me. Can I really believe that my grandmother lives again? That I will see her one day? That eternity is real? That God is real? Again, doubts crept into my mind. I already tend towards doubt. I doubt whether or not I locked the door, turned off the stove, made the right choice, and so on. But this doubting was much more serious than that. Was my grandmother, whose body I would see a few days later at the viewing, really alive? Could I believe the teachings of Scripture? Was God in fact real? (Can we be this honest with each other, ladies? These were the thoughts going through my mind.) 

To counter these doubts, I went over the defense of God’s existence in my mind. I said to myself, “OK, Amy, list out the evidence of God’s existence.”  I went over the witness of creation itself, the sense of right and wrong that each of us are born with, and I had just gotten to thinking about the witness of the disciples as they gave their lives for what they had seen (the risen Christ), when I looked up at a billboard. The words on this billboard were the following: “There is evidence for God.” The word ‘is’ was underlined. Once again, God’s assurances met me in the midst of my doubt. This was another Ebenezer moment -- a moment in which I knew that, more than a billboard to a lost world, this was God speaking to me. He knew I would be driving down I-75 that day and He knew the thoughts that would be going through my mind on that specific stretch of the interstate. And He said, “Yes, Amy, I am real. I do exist; and I care enough about you to have someone post this billboard on the interstate for you.”

No, God does not always work in those kinds of miraculous ways in my life. In fact, it is very rare that such dramatic things happen. Many times my questions are unanswered or I don’t hear God’s voice. But, it is in those times, that I can go back to my Ebenezer moments, my “stones of remembrance”, and remember that God is real and that He cares.

What are YOUR Ebenezer moments? Do you keep track of them? Do you remind yourself of them in difficult times? The Old Testament is full of commands to remember what God has done in the past. May we remember; and may those memories give us assurance when times are hard.

--Amy O'Rear

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