During the COVID pandemic, Carla and I converted a spare bedroom into an office. I built a desk and some bookcases. We added an office chair and a desk lamp and stocked up on pens, pencils, highlighters, and scratch pads.
Here, in my little home office, I pay the bills and balance the checkbook. I check my email, read the latest news reports, and consider tomorrow’s weather forecast. A high of sixty in early January? … only in the Texas Panhandle! My office is outfitted with a collection of Bible translations, a few Bible commentaries, an atlas, and a Bible dictionary. A few volumes lay open before me. This is where I read and write, study and prepare.
This has become my favorite place on earth! Why? Well, let’s say this is my Bethel.
Remember Jacob? His name meant deceiver, liar, cheater (Genesis 25:26, 27:36). Before becoming the father of the Israelite nation, Jacob ran away from home. Jacob had connived, schemed, scammed, and cheated his brother, the first-born twin, out of his birthright and blessing (Genesis 25:27-34, 27:1-40), so to escape Esau’s retribution, he fled to Uncle Laban’s house.
Mentally and emotionally exhausted from a lifetime of domestic conflict and weary from the travel, Jacob stopped at a cross-roads community called Luz (Genesis 28:19). Falling into the dust, he propped himself up against a rock, and fell asleep.
Wow! What a dream! Jacob saw “a stairway set on the ground with its top reaching the sky, and God’s angels were going up and down on it” (Genesis 28:12). The vision was so other-worldly, yet so real. Before he could climb to the highest heights, the runaway rebel saw “the Lord was standing there beside him, saying, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you’ ” (Genesis 28:13–15).
Jacob had done nothing deserving of God’s blessing, but God’s gracious words were a reaffirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant, God’s promise originally given to Jacob’s grandfather (Genesis 12, 15, 17). He didn’t deserve it, but the promise was now his!
As Jacob woke with a start, he proclaimed, “surely the Lord is in this place” (Genesis 28:16), and he gave Luz a new name: Bethel… The House of God… the place where the unworthy met the All-Mighty… the quiet place where a wayward child met the loving Father.
I’m a little like Jacob. So are you. We’re not worthy of God’s miraculous revelation or His merciful covenant. But God was gracious then, and He’s still gracious today. He meets us at quiet place, when we’re alone, and often when we’re weary.
Where is your Bethel? Is it a corner in your living room, a soft chair in your bedroom, or a chair at the dining room table? We need to visit Bethel, and we need to linger in His presence! Let’s start 2023 right… with a daily visit to Bethel!