Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” I Samuel 7:12
Maybe a Josh Garrels concert is a weird Ebeneezer, but it's one of mine. Let me tell you why.
The last time Josh Garrels played here in Dallas, in February 2014, it was a hard, hard week.
At the time, our daughter, Libby, was suffering through a series of manic episodes as a result of a prescribed steroid. We were all trying to help her navigate through that terrifying experience. She has written a bit about what was unfolding in her life then.
I remember showing up on that Thursday night, feeling profoundly disoriented and distressed. During that concert, I found a couple of anchors to hold onto in the storm.
That night, I first heard Robbie Seay Band's cover of "Up to the Mountain." Those beautiful words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. convey the reality that God will sometimes place a task before us that is incredibly difficult and demanding, seemingly without relief or resolution, and we climb that mountain just because He asks us to.
And then of course there was Josh Garrel's gorgeous re-imagining of the old bluegrass standard, "Farther Along," which promises us that "we'll understand it all bye and bye."
All during the long weeks and months of 2014, I would play those songs and keep repeating to myself, "God asks me to go here. He's loving us through. Farther along, we'll know all about it. For now, we just keep climbing."
I can't even express how grateful I am to be on the other side of that climb today. How grateful I am for friends and family who came alongside and held us up. How grateful I am for doctors whose expertise opened the door to healing. How grateful I am to God, for making a way where there was no way.
And how grateful I was to sit in that beautiful old concert hall this weekend, to have a few hours to be in that music again, a little bit farther along.
Robbie Seay didn't open. This time, it was Will Regan. The first song he played is called "Climb."
I lean not on my own understanding.
My life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven.
I give it all to You, God, trusting that you'll make something beautiful out of me.
There's nothing I hold onto.
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open.
We set our Ebeneezer here:
Thus far the Lord has helped us.
And for all the mountains yet to come, yes.
We climb these mountains with our hands wide open.