by Eric Ryan, Pastor of Leadership Development
Several times in the Bible, God had his people set up stone monuments, or simple stacks of stones (usually 12 for the tribes) as a way of remembering what He did in that place. Twelve stones on the other side of the Jordan River when they first entered the Promised Land is one example. The term “ebenezer” as in “I raise my ebenezer,” comes from a stone that Samuel set up in 1 Samuel 7 as a way of remembering God’s help (ebenezer).  

Why did God ask them to do that? He commanded it because humans are forgetful. This way, when Israelite families would walk by the stones, and their children would ask, “Why is that random stack of stones over there?” the parents could retell the story that their parents told them, and generations would not forget the works of God. 

Today anniversaries and dates can serve as a symbolic stack of stones. When we take time to reflect, it’s as if we are walking by a group of stones, and remembering what God did on that day. August 5th, 2017, for our family, is the day we jumped in the Yukon and moved to Tallahassee. Coming up on three years in a couple of weeks, I have been reflecting on our decision as well as remembering all God has done here. There are many observations to make, as well as things to praise God for, but allow me to share the three most significant with you in hopes that you will do the same by taking time to reflect on important days to you. 

  1. For me personally: The last three years have been a unique time of growth for me. This will sound strange to some, but Jesus has become more significant to me. I know, odd for a pastor to say. Another way to say it: how I lived my life, trumped in priority, to how well I knew Jesus. Or what I accomplished in ministry got more of my focus than how I walked with Jesus. My impact as a “leader” receives more of my effort and focus than my effort as a disciple.

When I glance at those stones (reflect on Aug. 5), I thank God that He has done significant things in and around me to pull away from the distractions and allow me to experience the greatness of knowing Him in a more significant way. 

  1. For Julianna (Jules), my wife: I can’t speak for her, but this is my glancing at the stones, not hers. We didn’t know what this move would feel like for Jules. I grew up moving a good bit, and we knew beforehand how I typically cope with a move. Jules was baptized as an infant at Perimeter, the church I worked at before Wildwood. Now I often tell people, if we had to make the decision all over again, we would move simply for what it has done for Jules’ walk with the Lord. In the 12 years I have known her: I have not seen this much spiritual growth in her in such a short time. When I look over at those stones, I could dance: remembering all God has built in her in three short years. 

  1. Wildwood Church: When I look at the stones of August 5th, I praise God for the love, generosity, and support Wildwood has shown our family. Don’t worry: this isn’t some devo designed to say we’re leaving! Seriously though, I could list whole families and individuals who have made significant efforts to love and support us over these first three years. Thank you. I know it was Christ working through you, and there have been times when I have been brought to tears as He has overwhelmed me with His goodness and kindness in you. 

What pile of rocks are you walking up on soon? Maybe it’s a birthday in your family or an anniversary of sorts. Maybe you can reflect on your time in Tallahassee. Regardless, I hope you get to experience the joy that can come when we reflect on God’s goodness to us. I’m convinced that gratitude can stabilize us in the hardest of times. Give it a try! 
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