I grew up singing a hymn that you might recognize if you grew up in a fairly traditional church like mine. Come Though Fount of Every Blessing is one that is in almost every hymnal.
As a young child, I always loved the soaring melody in the mid-section and its lilting rhythm. But when we got to verse 2, I always sang it without really understanding what it meant.
"Here I raise mine Ebenezer Hither by Thy help I come And I hope by Thy good pleasure Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger Wand'ring from the fold of God He to rescue me from danger Interposed His precious blood"
"What the heck is an Ebenezer?", I would think, and "what do the rest of those fancy words mean, like 'hither' and 'interposed'?" What I discovered later in life was that Ebenezer wasn't referring to the character from the famous Dickens story, Ebenezer Scrooge - one possibility my child's brain came up with. Instead, it had a biblical meaning that gave new and beautiful significance to verse two of a hymn that I had always loved.
It turns out that the meaning of "Ebenezer" in the hymn comes from the Bible. In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel sets up a stone in a specific place to memorialize how God had just delivered the Israelites from the army of Philistines. The word literally means "stone of help." Samuel declared that the stone was to serve as a symbol of God's saving help.
Lately, I have been musing off and on about Ebenezers and what they look like in our lives today. What are the things we do to erect an Ebenezer to remind us of milestones or turning points in our lives? Or, in the Christian's life, what is a lasting symbol of God's saving help? As I mused on these things, it hit me one day that many of Safe Harbor's residents and staff members have Ebenezers of their own, thought they likely wouldn't call them by this name.
Safe Harbor's staff and residents have some of the most beautiful and symbolic tattoos I have ever seen. This ink-on-flesh art is a permanent reminder of God's saving help in their lives. I love to hear the stories behind these tattoos. Each is unique and symbolizes a different way that God stepped into the woman's life to save. I wanted to share some of them with you so you could see what I see when i look at the tattoos on these women that are so dear to my heart. May your heart be encouraged by the saving power of God.
What our Safe Harbor family has to say about their "Ebenezers" (from left to right)
THE PHOENIX: "A phoenix is a mythical creature said to be born from the ashes and whose tears have healing powers. After graduating from Safe Harbor I truly felt I had risen out of the ashes of my life and had been healed through the many tears shed in my process at Safe Harbor. When the tattoo is finished it will also say, "ash was redeemed, only beauty remains...death was arrested and my life began."
THE CLEAN DATE:
"This is the purple overdose awareness ribbon and my sobriety date. The broken chain represents my freedom from addiction. This date is actually one month before I got to Safe Harbor, when I got arrested. I struggled with getting this at first because I thought, "What if I relapse?' But I have stopped living in fear of my addiction so I decided to kick the devil in the teeth and loudly proclaim my freedom with this tattoo!"
"JUDAS ATE TOO" and "GRACE UPON GRACE"
"These two tattoos I got with the specific intention to love others like Jesus has loved me! He knew Judas was going to betray him, but he still fed him! And Jesus has shown me grace upon grace so I try to do the same with others."
If you would like to contribute to the healing work that Safe Harbor is doing, please consider giving a donation of any amount. You can donate securely below or send a check made out to Safe Harbor at P.O. Box 124, Springfield, OH 45501 with our sincere thanks.