You know about Water Aerobics and Step Aerobics (made easy, nonetheless, though I would beg to differ with semantics of “easy” on this video). What about Chair Aerobics? Gospel Aerobics? Swedish Dance Aerobics? And one that I might actually be able to keep up with, Senior Fitball Aerobics.
I actually have a very strong aversion to anything with the word “aerobic” in it. But this morning, my brain went down a funny path and ended up with a bizarre picture of “Rock Aerobics”.
I’ll warn you, if rabbit trails drive you nuts, this is probably not a post you should read.
Growing up, my Mom had an old painting that hung on the wall by our dining room table. It wasn’t the painting, but the words below it that impressed me:
Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
I liked the sound of the word Hitherto. I liked the way the whole phrase sounded. This painting has come back to my mind through the years for a variety of reasons.
To this point in time, God has been faithful to me. I suppose it can sound funny, as if there is some doubt about whether or not God will continue to be faithful a moment beyond “this point in time”. But, for me, the past is the most certainly known thing there is. And there is both a comfort and a confidence in recognizing and specially acknowledging the faithfulness of God, hitherto.
The future can freak me out a little bit if I think about it too hard. But the past. That I can see clearly, and usually calmly. I’ve walked through some pretty hideous things. I’m still walking through some pretty hard things. I have questions, struggles and doubts. But up to this very point, I’m still comfortable affirming the faithfulness of God in my life. That makes the future a little less uncertain.
I don’t have to know the future or justify ahead of time how the faithfulness of God is going to look. All I know is today, I can look back on things, and I can look right up to this very point, and I can still say, “Thus far (the NIV’s version of Hitherto) the Lord has helped me.”
All of that has nothing to do with rock aerobics. It’s just that the main direction I wanted to go with this post had to do with that verse, and that verse reminds me of that painting my Mom had and makes me wish I had a nice work of art with those words on it, in my house.
This morning I was looking up all the occurrences of the Hebrew word ezer for a friend of mine who is going to be teaching a Bible study. I’m not a Hebrew scholar, so I feel a bit nervous trying to talk about something I don’t know a lot about in such a public place. But here goes, a rabbit trailer’s thoughts on ezer.
One of the Bible studies my friend is teaching is on the life of Eve. In Genesis 2, God notices that it is not good for Adam to be alone and decides to create an ezer, often translated helpmate, for Adam. So, as my friend and I talked about all the other uses of ezer in the Old Testament, we got to wondering where on earth the idea started that ezer/helpmeet meant someone who defines their life by the one they are helping. Most of the uses of the word ezer refer to God as helper.
In most contexts, when we talk of helping someone, we are thinking of someone who is disadvantaged in some way, and the one helping has an advantage–an ability to help the other where they are in need. Being a helper is not usually about defining myself and all that I do exclusively in terms of what the other person needs. God helps us, for sure. But that looks very different from how I hear people talk about a wife helping her husband. And, that’s still not the point of my post.
Looking up ezer got me to notice the meaning of a couple of other words, names, actually, that have ezer in them. Eliezer, God is my help. And Ebenezer, stone of help.
Ebenezer is what Samuel named the place where he placed a stone memorial commemorating the help of the Lord. I Samuel 7:12:
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.
So, while I was talking to my friend and making the connection between ezer and Ebenezer, she began to sing a line from the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”:
Here I raise mine Ebenezer…
And that line suddenly struck me as very funny. I’m thinking it is referring to “raise” as in “build” or “construct”, but when I hear “raise” my mind goes first to a picture of lifting something up. Like raising a banner or a flag. I’m guessing if I stopped to picture anything when I’ve sung that line, it must have been along the lines of the hand motions that go to: “Joy is a flag flown high from the castle of my heart…So raise it high in the sky….”
If you don’t know those motions, at the point where you sing “raise it high” everybody starts lifting their arms up and down and then waving them from side to side. Like an exercise class.
Only, now that I stop and think about what an Ebenezer is, if we’re all raising an Ebenezer, it’s going to be a big old rock that’s being lifted up and down. And that brought to mind a picture of a Rock Aerobics class, to the tune of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”.
So, there you have it. Whether you wanted it or not. A glimpse into how my brain works and jumps all around (Ha, brain aerobics are actually the only kind I, personally, can tolerate.)