Before making the big decision to move from the East Coast to the West Coast, my wife Sarah and I prayed with the story of Abraham and Sarah’s journey. Each place they travelled, they built an altar to honor God. They were responding to God’s call to depart from their homeland and journey to a new, unknown land. What they left behind in each place they went was a symbol of their relationship with God.
The theme of Abraham’s story is trust in God’s goodness. In fact, practically every story in the Scriptures shines light on God’s continuous goodness and faithfulness, despite human brokenness. Sarah and I knew we could rely on God’s goodness, and that like Abraham and Sarah, through our ministry and service to others, we would build an altar to honor God. Our metaphorical altar would mark God’s endless goodness.
Amidst my own busyness in ministry and teaching I’ve been finding little moments of grace: a meaningful Scripture passage, receiving an asked-for grace, a song, and joy-filled moments with my wife. My spiritual director noted that these things mark God’s goodness in my life. She related the story of Samuel, who, after the Israelites defeated the Philistines, set up a stone as a way to mark God’s goodness and help to them. He named the stone Ebenezer, which means “the stone of help.”
Similar to Samuel’s stone and the altars built by Abraham and Sarah, the small moments of grace in my life were markers of God’s goodness, “stones of help” for me. I needed to collect these stones as reminders that God was present and active, even when I felt God’s absence.
St. Ignatius always said to remember moments of consolation for those times when desolation came. Over the last several months, in times I’ve felt the occasional pangs of desolation, I’ve found myself going back to those stones of consolation which mark God’s goodness for me, and I hold them as treasure. They remind me that no matter where on my journey, no matter how broken I may feel, God continues to remain faithful and good.