Have You Been To Bethel Yet?
Many times I have had the privilege to mentor another sister in her faith walk, I have asked them to share their personal encounter with Jesus Christ. No few times I have been met with a quizzical expression lending evidence to the fact that they had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. I soon learned that not only was my question not clear, but it often left them with a question about their salvation.
Although questioning their salvation was never my intent, my question presented me with a wonderful opportunity to add context and a wonderful opportunity to share my testimony. My personal encounter with the Lord was not very conventional. By that I mean, I was not sitting in church listening to a powerful, life-changing sermon. Nor was I listening to some profound heart moving hymn or song that brought me to realize my need for salvation. No, no one was telling me about the importance of giving my life to Christ. As a matter of fact, I was actually enjoying a glass of Johnny Walker Red and marijuana. As a matter of fact, I was so removed from all things Holy that I was indulging in this act on a Sunday morning when most folks were headed to worship Him.
I was what the old heads call a heathen. I was the one spoken of in Ephesians 2 that "...walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience...fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind: and were by nature the children of wrath..." I was wicked and loved it. I was mean, sarcastic and hateful. No, there was no hope for me, or so I thought.
On this particular Sunday morning, God had something in store for me that I would never have imagined. I had three children at the time and always would send them to the little church that met in our apartment complex on Sundays. That way I could get a couple hours alone with my bottle. However, God put boldness in my middle son's heart to question me about why I would always send them to church but would not go myself. Well, needless to say, my response to his inquiry was indicative of the alcohol and drugs I had ingested. My response startled him and he dropped his little bible. This wicked woman wouldn't even let him pick it up but demanded he head down to the church immediately. After he and my other two kids left, I sort of felt that the bible shouldn't just lay there on the floor so I got up to pick it up. It was upon picking that bible up that I experienced my Bethel moment. The bible had fallen open and as I picked it up I glanced at the page that it had opened to and as I glanced over the words I heard the voice of God speak to me in audible terms. I know, it would have been easy to blame that incident on the weed and liquor. However, I knew that was not the case because the moment I heard Him speak, I became sober! I then fell to my knees as He convinced me that it was Him speaking, telling me that He was not angry with me but that He loved me. I can't express the joy that came over me! It was so strong that all I could do was weep. I somehow knew that I was bowing before the Lord and He was standing right there in the room. I couldn't lift up my head. All I could do was weep, and I wept and wept for what seemed like an hour. But when I arose I read the chapter of my son's bible that spoke directly to my need. I read Isaiah 12 and when I was done I was convinced that God has just pardoned me and was giving me the opportunity to know Him. I responded, God, thank you. I don't know what just happened but thank you. I don't know you but I want to. I want to know you. Although He didn't respond audibly, He began speaking to me in my mind, confirming that I didn't have anything to worry about, He would take care of everything.
From that day forward, I stopped drinking, smoking, and taking drugs. My husband, who was my partner in crime, thought that I had lost my mind. My pack of Virginia Slims laid on our nightstand for weeks and he knew I was a chain smoker. What in the world had happened to his wife? Well, needless to say, I couldn't explain it. And when I told Him God spoke to me, he wasn't having it. Nope, he didn't want to be with a holy roller. We had too much at stake with the setup we had established dealing drugs and all. I had become a problem. Our marriage suffered greatly but today we serve in ministry together. I tell women all the time that if I had to do it all over again, I would! It was doing that 15 years of waiting to see God do for my husband what He had done for me that I got to discover how powerfully awesome and loving God is.
So, I ask you reading this blog today, do you remember your Bethel moment? Jacob's Bethel encounter was so powerful that he built an altar, poured, and offering of oil and wine on it. Back in the day that was a significant recognition of milestone moments in his life. He had been running from his brother who had vowed to kill him and in his despair - God showed up! It was in my despair - God showed up! It is in your despair - God shows up! But He didn't do it just once for Jacob, He did it again when Jacob had to run from Shechem after his sons had murdered the king and his men. Jacob feared for the lives of his family and ran. God told him to go back to Bethel and when he got there, once again, God showed up!
So beloved I ask you, are you in despair? Is life causing you to want to run away? Go to Bethel! Take out your bible or pull it up on your phone or iPad, and begin reading from the very beginning. I promise you that if you do so with a genuine desire to meet God, get ready. His word says that if you seek Him with all your heart, He will be found by you. It's His promise to show up. Jeremiah 29:13