I sit by my mother as she sleeps. She has been going through the trials of learning to walk again, with what she calls her “bionic knee.” I do not see her as the Bionic Woman – at least not yet – but today, on day three, she got very tired. Mother is seventy-seven and she has never had major surgery. Personally, I think she has been a trooper, but even the best soldiers hurt.
She hurt today. In fact, she cried.
I finally got the Internet working in her hospital room and pulled up her favorite YouTube song, performed by Sarah Noelle, of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Mother sang along, slowly at first, and then, her sweet soprano could be heard. As a girl in Livermore, Kentucky, my mother was in the Kentucky All State Chorus. I see why – she has a wonderful voice.
When the song ended, Mother looked at me, “Thank you, Anne. You’re a good girl.” She quickly fell silent. I knew her knee throbbed
“Do you want to hear it again?”
“Fannie?” she called me by my family name, “I need to raise my Ebenezer.”
“We all do,” I told her.
“You’re the armchair theologian. Why has all the bad things happened to me?” Mother sometimes falls dark when she hurts – but we all do. When we hurt, we do not understand why – or maybe that is the time we should seek Him out the most.
I worked by memory – in 1 Samuel 7, the prophet of same name and the Israelites were under attack by the Philistines. They were greatly afraid for their lives and they asked Samuel to pray for them – which they would win against the battle. Samuel offered a sacrifice to the Lord and asked for protection. The Lord listened to the prayer and accepted the sacrifice. The Philistines lost the battle and returned to where they had come from. Afterwards, Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen and said the stone would be called “Ebenezer” because of the Lord had helped them. This is from 1 Samuel 7:12.
“We raise our Ebenezer as we praise Him in low and high times – and by helping ourselves as He helps us, “I told her.
“That sounds trite,” she argued.
Oh dear. The one thing going for me as an armchair theologian (actually, I did degree in it), Mother and I both were United Methodists converted by Redemptrist Fathers. We both think identically – it is rather frightening.
“Perhaps,” I told my mother, “the Lord wants us to get up and walk on our knee – maybe call that bionic knee ‘Ebenezer’ and make it a standing point of praise that you got healing in this surgery. You are going to feel pain – and that sucks. But you will be better.”
“It’s going to hurt, Mother. Just focus on the fact, day by day, you will be better. Praise him at all times – like the song says, ‘I’ll praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love.’ Do small goals, small steps.”
“I’m going to the potty with help – every time,” she informed me, “I thank God I got help getting to it. The steps seem so long though!”
“I know. I’ve watched.”
“And I walked the hall a bit too – I think three times,” she counted.
“Four times,” I cheered her on.
Mother crossed herself, said a prayer, and told me to play some Jim Reeves country. “Makes me think of my mother – your grandmother – and happy times. I will work on my Ebenezer when I go walk in a while. For now, I’m going to rest. I will use my new knee. Maybe I can kneel at prayer again.” She pats my hand. I pat her hand back. We’re big hand patters!
I quietly play Jim Reeves and let my mother fall asleep. I type this after our short theological discussion and listen to her gentle snore.
Do I raise my own Ebenezer? Do I praise Him enough for what He has done for me? I think so, but in further memory I ask Him, “Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”
(Credit for beautiful vocals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3w9nvXuVnk)
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing Lyrics: https://www.lds.org/music/text/other/come-thou-fount-of-every-blessing?lang=eng