Written by Dallas Pepper on April 17th, 2018.
Part One here
Through out the next few days and even weeks I thought about that experience. I had problems with it and questions.
I understood part of the problem of where I ended up, but I didn't understand exactly how I got there. I understood Jesus's words...I think.
But I didn't really get the images around them. And what about ebenezers? I can't read scripture and conclude we should never think about any of God's work.
God himself established whole holidays to remember things He had done. So what was the lesson? There had to be more than just, "worship even when you don't feel like it." What was the wisdom to glen from this field?
I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to show me.
He showed me some things to take away.
The first thing was what I was fighting. In the first sentence of part one I had the hindsight to name it. But I didn't name it at the start of the fight. Depression. I should have instantly recognize this old enemy. The fact I didn't is proof of how it can dull the senses. Depression is NOT simply grief. It is emotion gone rabid. I do not know if depression comes from our flesh or demonic influence. Either way, it does not deserve an audience. It is not rational. Nothing will convince it things are right and arguing will only allow it to voice why things are wrong. It goes beyond acknowledgement that certain things are painful or difficult. It might not directly state God is not good, wise, or powerful. However, it does make those statements indirectly. This is what praise(just for who God is) breaks. Depression can't sneak agreements into direct statements about God. It can argue against, "This situation worked for good or can yet work for good" but it has only one thing to say to "God is good". Praise also changes the audience. While I can not physically walk away from inner voices and emotions, I can change who/what thoughts are directed at. Prayer and praise usher me into His presence.
For the next part God used another vision. I was up on the same mountain top from the first with Jesus discussing all this. He pointed down to the valley we came from. There were piles of stones. "ebenezers?", I asked. He answered, "Not all of them. Some are monuments to defeat". I jumped to my feet and turned to go down the mountain. "I'll go tear them down!", I shouted. God grabbed me by the back of my shirt, lifted me off the floor, and dropped me back to where I had sat. "How are you going to break apart that heavy stone?", He asked. "Umm...", I replied, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! Come on Jesus!" Again I ran and again He snatched me back up like a mother cat holding its kitten. He said, "We cannot tear these altars down. We must clean them up." Then I saw smoke rising from the stones. They were altars. It wasn't like normal smoke. It was different colors. Vibrant and beautiful smoke came from some and sickly repulsive colors from others. They rose and mixed high above. As I looked closer I saw a strange shape on one stone that gave off the unpleasant smoke. It disturbed me but I couldn't look away. Finally it came into focus. A pig. I have to confess I still didn't get it. Why can't there be 5 plain-spoken steps? I reflected and again prayed for the Holy Spirit to help me understand.
Ebenezers are monuments of victory, memories of God's help. But I have memories of pain and disappointment too. Altars are places of sacrifices, offerings, and worship. I earned my "I survived Leviticus" sticker. I know pigs aren't suppose to be on an altar. Something is wrong with my worship?
The pleasant smoke was mixing with the bad smoke. The pleasant aroma couldn't be fully smelled over the pig stench.
There it was. My offerings of gratitude were being marred by echos of bitterness. No matter how thankful I am for my child, it will never fully cover being bitter about a difficult boss.**
And that is where praise comes in. I can't pretend painful things aren't painful or didn't happen, but I can remind my soul of who God is. I remember God is sovereign and wise and good and loving and capable of working ALL things for my good. I can look at the pain and say, I don't know how but some how God can use this. There is nothing that was truly a defeat. Praise is the answer because at the very root of all of this is lack of trust. I need to apply (or reapply) trust to EVERY aspect of my past, present, and future.
**I used boss as an example only. I love my current employment and I have the best boss and co-workers.
Prayer for Deliverance.
1Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation;
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
2For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
3O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your dwelling places.
4Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.
5Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God. (nasb)