Last winter my husband and I took advantage of a great deal—$50 roundtrip airline tickets from Iowa to Florida. We quickly secured a corresponding opening at a St. Augustine resort included in our vacation package. “Thank you, God, for this affordable break just when we needed it.” It was warm. It was beautiful in a way so different from snowy Iowa, and we spent a few days doing my favorite beach thing—picking up shells, lots and lots of shells.
With two days left in St. Augustine, I tore the meniscus in my knee. Walking anywhere was not an option, and I moped on the second floor deck with my foot on a chair and ice on my painful knee. This was no fun, and I did a little complaining to God, “You could have prevented this injury ogive me a miraculous cure now. Please?”
Instead, he reminded me of a class I’d taught on renewing our minds, controlling our thoughts, and choosing our attitudes. I’d been reviewing this material for use in a retreat I would be leading the following month. “Practice it before you preach it,” was the thought that filled my mind.
I looked at the mountain of shells and dug in my purse for a black sharpie. I spent two days writing God reminders on shells to give away at the retreat. Looking at each shell, and choosing just the right words to print on it made me focus on God’s presence. I soon realized that this was the was the winter retreat I really needed—two days of sitting quietly in God’s presence without the distraction of the world, beautiful and warm though it might be.
See, I’m a visual learner. And these shells were to me what standing stones were to the patriarchs in the Bible—visual reminders of God’s promises. These shells reminded me, “Ebenezer.” God had helped me in the past, he was helping me in the present, and he will always help me in the future.
Ebenezer shells were God’s gift to me, and I was able to regift them to those who attended the retreat. I still have a basket of them in my living room, so I get to tell their story over and over again.
Ebenezer. Print it on a stone or a shell. Letter it on a sign. Remember. Pass it on.