The second round of the NHL playoffs came to the Verizon Center on Thursday evening, and the Capitals are once again facing the Penguins—just as they did last year. In fact this is the 10th time the two teams have met in the playoffs, and the Penguins own an astounding 8-1 win advantage over the Capitals in the previous nine playoff series; the Capitals won only one series against them, back in 1994. The rivalry between the two teams—and particularly between stars Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby—is followed in both Pittsburgh and DC, and throughout the country.
I’m not ready to make a prediction about the outcome of this series except to say “LET’S GO CAPS!” Stay tuned.
This situation reminds me of an old, old story. Back in Bible times, God’s people frequently found themselves in conflict with other groups around them. Those conflicts gave rise to the stories that I learned as a child, such as the story of David and Goliath, or the Battle of Jericho where the walls “came a-tumblin’ down.”
Mixed in with those stories is a short little story of a place called “Ebenezer,” a name familiar to us both because it is the first name of Ebenezer Scrooge, from “A Christmas Carol,” and also for its inclusion in the lyrics of the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” In the second verse of the hymn, the lyrics read, “Here I raise my Ebenezer.” I had no idea what that meant until recently.
It turns out that the first part of the word, “Eben,” means “stone,” as in a memorial stone or marker—like a monument or gravestone. The second part of the word, “ezer,” is a form of the word that means “help.” So Ebenezer is literally “stone of help.”
Samuel the prophet established a monument known as “Ebenezer,” the “Stone of Help” at a place where the children of God had been in conflict for a long time. In that place, through God’s divine help in the form a miraculous windstorm, the tide of the conflict turned and brought his people a win. The Ebenezer—stone of help—was a marker of the place where God had helped them.
We all have challenges to face, and some are so difficult that they seem insurmountable, unconquerable, hard to face, and impossible to work through.
But in God’s mind, these losses are just temporary. In my experience, God’s grace wins through—even when it may not seem like it while we are going through it. In our lives we can raise up our own Ebenezers, our stones of help, our ways of remembering how God’s divine love has changed our lives in the past.
Someone once wrote, “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us…in our past history.” That’s a comment about our Ebenezers, the stones of help that mark the best moments of our lives.