The God of Bethel

Faith / Thursday, January 11th, 2018

It was one of those “out of body” moments. I sat there, at the conference room table, across from a woman I loved and respected, and listened as she offered me the very opportunity I had always dreamed of.

In complete disbelief, I sat as she told me she and others in leadership had been talking about me. They had noticed my dedication to my volunteer position and they wished to bring me on staff, under her tutelage. She told me she hoped I would learn the ropes and one day be able to take her place when she retired.

I was stunned.

Six years earlier, I had cried to my mom over the phone, in front of my little house. I told her of my dream job and how someone had told me earlier that day there was only one person in all of  East Texas who was paid to do that job and she had held that position for nearly 20 years.

I knew then, that there was no chance my dream would ever be fulfilled. I would have to settle to do the work I loved as a side hustle, a volunteer position, never as my main vocation.  But my heart never really settled. Instead, I spent the next six years doing all I could to “make it happen” anyway I could imagine until finally, exhausted and burned out- I wanted to quit everything and give up.

But then, I was invited to a meeting. And I was offered the job of my dreams.

Here’s the twist to this story: I took the job and three months later became pregnant with my second child. Within weeks of seeing those two pink lines, I sensed the Lord was asking me to resign from my position. I spent the next three months resisting His call to stay home.

“But you gave me this position, Lord! It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of! It’s only been six months, this is so embarrassing! If I step down now I will never have this opportunity again! God, I do not understand!!”

His response was simple and kind. That moment in the conference room was never about me getting a job. It was about God meeting with me face-to-face and communicating loud and clear that He sees me and that He alone can make doors where I see walls.

[tweetshareinline tweet=”He alone can make doors where I see walls” username=”MKTiller”]

That moment had nothing to do with climbing the ladder and everything to do with stilling my heart.

Up to that job offer, I believed I had to hustle to make my dreams happen. It was a hopeless feeling because I could not fathom a single situation where I could maneuver the jump from where I was to where I wanted to be. But God saw me, and He reminded me that He gave me those dreams and desires in my heart. Most of all, He reminded me that is it He who maneuvers the jumps, not me.

He reminded me of this once again a few months ago, as I read Genesis 31.

In Genesis 31, God speaks to Jacob in a dream. Jacob has fallen asleep fearful of his father-in-law, Laban. He had fallen out of favor with Laban and it was clear that it was time to leave his land before things got ugly. But Jacob was afraid, unable to fathom how he could leave without putting his wives, children, and household in great danger.

So, God steps down from heaven to reassure his child in a dream. The first thing he says to him is, “I am the God of Bethel” (Gen 31:13). This may seem like a strange way for God to identify himself to you, but to Jacob, it was a greeting of great comfort.

You see, if you backed up a few chapters, you would read of another fear-filled transition in Jacob’s life. Having just stolen his brother Esau’s’ birthright and blessing from their father, Issac, Jacob must flee from his father’s house under the cloud of his brother’s murderous threats.

Terrified, alone and exhausted from running, Jacob falls asleep. While dreaming, God gives him a vision of a ladder stretching from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. And God speaks to him, saying:

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”…He called the name of that place Bethel… (Gen 28:15-16 & 19a, ESV)

Flash forward to Genesis 31 again, and perhaps now you understand the significance of what God said to Jacob the night before he left Laban’s land.

“I am the God of Bethel”. I am the God who promised to be with you wherever you went. I am the God who showed you miraculous things. I am the God who saw you in your fear and reassured you of my love.

That conference room was my own Bethel. And anytime I begin to feel myself panic about my complete inability to make my dreams come true, He assures me, “Daughter, I am the God of Bethel”. And once again, my heart is stilled.

What is your Bethel? Can you think of a time you clearly heard God’s reassurance over your life? How can you cling to that in times of distress? I pray that when you are in the grips of fear you will stop long enough to hear your Father whispering, “Be still, child, I am the God of Bethel.”

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