“Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came.”- Jeremiah 31:21 (NLT)
“There is a difference between making a trip and making a trail. Far too many of us make the trip, but we don’t mark the trail.”- Mark Batterson, SFSG: So Far So God sermon series
“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.’ “- 1 Samuel 7:12
An old, abandoned crack house stood at the corner of 2nd and F Street NE, the northwest corner of the Capitol Hill historic district. Cinder blocks filled the cavities that once held doors and windows. In addition, the graffiti-littered walls were painted a garish green. Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, D. C., often walked by and around this building. Yet, as Mark strode by this time, he received a prompting from the Holy Spirit: This crack house would make a great coffeehouse.
However, Ebenezers Coffeehouse took eight years of hard, faith-stretching prayer — all marked by God’s guideposts. For example, the two lawyers who owned the building wanted $1 million dollars – because of the building’s location. Ebenezers stands one block from Union Station and kitty corner to the largest office building in DC. Ultimately, NCC purchased the property for $325,000 – a miracle considering four people outbid the church. NCC hyperlinked their prayers to God’s promise in Matthew 18:18- “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.”
In The Circle Maker, Pastor Batterson stresses that there’s nothing God loves more than keeping His promises. And God actively watches and waits for us to do one simple thing. Take Him at His word. Also, if you take God at His word, you’ll make this joyful discovery. God desires to bless you far more than you expect to be blessed. Thus, God’s ability to give greatly exceeds your capacity to receive. Most noteworthy, God’s joy overflows when we take Him at His word. Consequently, Mark shares his favorite verse from Psalm 23: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (v.6).
But, Mark underscores, the word follow fails to convey a strong enough translation. In Hebrew, the word expresses a hunting term. Therefore, it’s like God is hunting you down — to bless you! Often, though, we doubt His good intentions, incredulous that He’s for us. That’s why God reminds us so many different times in many different ways using many different words.
In conclusion, just as the prophet Samuel built an altar (Ebenezer) after Israel’s upset victory over the Philistines, the coffeehouse serves as an altar to God, who helped NCC every step of the way. Hence, Mark explains how an altar helps us remember God’s guideposts:
“An altar reminds us that the God who did it before can do it again. It’s not just a token of God’s faithfulness. It’s a statement of faith: the God who got us here will get us there, and the God who did this will do that (emphasis Mark’s).”
SFSG: So Far So God!