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Ebenezer stone

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This is Principal Peter Boonstra writing this week’s blog. Below is a devotional I wrote in June of 2016 for the first visioning and fundraising dinner for the new campus. I ask that you take a moment to read it. After it I will explain why.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

As the process of developing a new campus progressed over the last year –two years? Ten years? I found myself, and perhaps you did too, thinking that because our cause or plan was a good one and a wise one and a strategic one, that it must be God’s plan. I recall specifically the days that we were struggling with the 77th Street property. We were talking about how we had to pursue it and if it did not work out then it must not have been God’s will. And while in a way that is certainly true because God’s will is sovereign, in another way God’s will is not just the path of least resistance. Sometimes God intends for us to struggle–sometimes against great odds so that in the end his glory can be revealed or so that it will build up our reliance on him. I feel that the new campus effort has been such a struggle. It has not gone smoothly thus far even though it has gone well, and I suspect it will not always go smoothly from here. But I do believe sincerely that tonight we could raise up a stone–a big tall stone and plant it in the ground. And we could call that stone “Ebenezer” because “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”

About 15 years ago I had the delight of going to Israel where the original Ebenezer was raised. No one knows exactly where that is anymore, but there are still stones standing in various places throughout the area that were raised just like the one that Samuel raised. And they still serve the purpose of raising the question—Why is this stone standing up? The trouble with those stones today is that the witnesses are gone. Nobody is left to answer the question.

Tonight, our gathering here is something of an Ebenezer. Instead of planting a stone, we are sharing a meal, but the answer to the question of “How?” is—Thus far has the Lord helped us.

And it is my hope that a few years from now we will plant another stone–tall and strong that will raise the same question in our children—Why did you build this new school? And our answer will be “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” We can tell them how we struggled and sacrificed and through the challenges the Lord was faithful and gracious.

I am grateful for this day when we can in the midst of the effort say, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” And I look forward to the day when we will raise a fresh and new Ebenezer on the property at 109th and Calumet and we will then be able again to say, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

That was two years ago this month. And now we have raised an actual Ebenezer stone inside the new campus. It stands quite tall in the commons and has been covered up to protect it during construction. This week, the stone was unveiled. It is not an idol, not an altar, nothing holy about it—it is just a rock, a stone. This one happens to be a basalt column mined in Washington state. We brought it here and stood it up to acknowledge that “Thus far the Lord has led us.” We put it in the very middle of the school as a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness to us—just as he was faithful to the Israelites of old. God has been good and blessed our struggle for this new campus in which our children will learn of the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.

Reminder: The final new campus tour will be this at Saturday, June 23, at 3:00 pm. We apologize for any confusion regarding the time. The construction crews are working during the day, so we need to wait until they are finished before we can do the tour.

Peter has been principal of Illiana for fifteen years and is eager to see a fresh vision of Christian education become a reality at Illiana’s new campus. He and his wife, Mary, have four children, live in Thornton, IL, and are members of Peace CRC.
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