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Looking Back

For the Lord is good;
    His steadfast love endures forever,
    and His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100:5 (ESV)


Series: The Breadcrumb Trail

My Dad. He was an avid reader and knowledgeable about many things, even though he only had an eighth-grade education. Dad loved his Bible—the King James Version, of course. Everyone in our town knew he loved Jesus, his church, and his family, and he never hesitated to share how great all of them were. He was always in a good mood. I only remember one time in our years together when I saw my dad depressed.

He developed emphysema and was admitted to our local VA hospital often. As it progressed, we helplessly watched him gasp for breath. Mother would go early and stay until I got off work, and I’d stay until dad went to sleep. One day my Mother called and told me dad was in a terrible depression. He was refusing food, medication, and wouldn’t leave his oxygen in, resulting in his transfer to the ICU. I prayed the entire way as I drove to the hospital. A song played on my CD and a line jumped out at me: This far I have helped you. This was a message for me and for my dad.

I knew it was from God’s Word, but couldn’t remember which book of the Bible or the context of the passage. When I arrived, I grabbed my Bible and eagerly searched for that scripture and found it. 1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV) says:

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.”

On this occasion, Samuel impressed on the Israelites the importance of returning to and depending on God. He had brought them through many trials and led them to a multitude of victories. They often forgot these things. He called the leaders together in prayer to seek God. Their enemies, the Philistines, saw them in prayer and thought it was the perfect opportunity to attack. But God showed Samuel what was about to happen. The Israelites stood together with God and defeated the Philistines. Samuel placed the rock as a reminder of the faithfulness of God and the victory He provided to the children of Israel.

After reading this story, I prayed that God’s words would be my words to my dad. I got out of the car, picked up a rock from the landscaping, and went to deliver God’s message.

I admit I cried when I saw my dad so utterly helpless, hooked up to machines, and crying. I walked up to him, took his hand, put the rock in it, and told him that brief message—this far I have helped you. Nothing else was said. We just looked at each other. Instantly, the peaceful, strong, encouraging, ever faithful Spirit of God did His work.

The next evening when I arrived, dad was back in the ward and the VA Minister of the Day was with him. Holding the rock, tears on her face, dad shared the message with her, and she released to God a situation in her life that seemed insurmountable. The men in the ward shared with me how dad told everyone who came in the room the message of the rock. The next days found him sharing it throughout the floor. My dad was back. God’s message was going forth, and He was glorified.

Can you look throughout your life and see your rocks? Was He with you in health and when you were sick? Through times of plenty and when you had a great need? Through times when you behaved your worst and times when you served Him wholly? Through waiting for your unanswered prayers or rejoicing for answers given? Each of these times is our own personal rock. Remember the lessons learned through these memories.

My dad’s rock lies on my nightstand. It serves as a constant reminder of God’s presence and faithfulness to him throughout his life. My dad is with the Lord in Heaven, and now, the rock is my reminder:

This far I have helped you.

Holding Fast to Hope,
Guest Writer

Scripture References: Psalm 100:5; 1 Samuel 7


2 comments on “Looking Back”

  1. Pamela Appleton
    July 24, 2024 at 5:22 pm

    What a lovely “Daddy Tribute”!
    Your neighbor,

  2. Judy Ackermann
    July 24, 2024 at 5:40 pm

    Debbie writes from her heart. She loves her family and demonstrates her love of Jesus every day. She has truly been the rock of her family. God bless her.

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