The Stone Between Mizpah & Shen: Thoughts on a Servant’s Heart

In about 3 days, I leave for the most-anticipated event of my year. Now, one might find it a little strange that this is my favorite event, because

1. It largely consists of doing this:



2. For fun, we do things like this:



3. And, for about 75% of the time, our energy levels are like this:



So by now, if you don’t think I’m insane, you’re wondering: Ellie, what the actual heck do you mean by this is your most anticipated event of the year?! 

All the above pictures are actual things that happened, yes. This…is the West Virginia missions trip.

Every year, my church goes in the first week of August to a tiny town in West Virginia to help build/repair homes and lead Vacation Bible School for the kids at the local church. Now, people who know me but haven’t been to West Virginia before assert that this is not quite my thing. Which makes sense. I like to paint and drink tea and wear cute shoes. My hair does not exactly fit into a ponytail. I haven’t played a real sport since 5th grade. Basically everything about me screams GIRL.

So why do I like doing this more than anything else? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in the days leading up to it, and I haven’t got a good answer for you except for the fact that I love Jesus.

It’s a weird thing, loving Jesus. Loving Jesus causes us humans – as Jon Foreman so beautifully put it, “crooked souls trying to stay up straight” – to lose our walls of insecurity and become undignified. To not just talk about God’s love, but to sing about it. To travel to Nowheresville to take care of people that we otherwise wouldn’t have sneezed at, not because they’ve done anything for us, but because we are commanded to love them. Loving Jesus causes the strangest, most beautiful things to happen.

I use the word undignified to describe loving Jesus because I got it from a song we sing in VBS every year in West Virginia. The chorus goes like this:
I’ll become / Even more undignified than this / Some will say it’s foolishness, but I’ll become / Even more undignified than this / Lay my pride by my side
I love this song for two reasons. First, because the kids at that church know that song so darn well that they stand on top of the pews and dance in the aisles and SHOUT it at the top of their lungs and it is absolutely breathtaking.

Second, because it’s the perfect reminder for why it’s so good for me to be there. We help the people in the town, and by helping them the Lord pours out His abundance on us and we become absolutely filled with Words that He wants to say to us. These lyrics get me every year because the Lord calls us to be undignified for Him, to get up on our rooftops and sing because we aren’t ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). And He calls us to lay our fortresses of pride aside so that we can know how holy He is.

And, man, Jesus speaks loud and clear there amidst the fields and mountains and nothingness. I go so I can hear Him more clearly. So He has all of me, distraction free.

And I gotta admit, running through fields is fun. More fun than Pinterest, even. 😉


For those who are wondering what my post title means, it’s a bit of a long story, but basically West Virginia is an Ebenezer in my life and thankfully the Word sums it up nicely:
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

Thus far has the Lord helped us, and farther will He continue to. 🙂



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