Bethel: House of God

He had to leave his family. His brother might kill him. He had to keep safe from his brother. He was a trickster: he had tricked his brother and father. He was untrustworthy, greedy, and on the run.

His father had opened the Gate of Heaven for him. His father had connected him to the Gate of Heaven. However, he was yet to see the Gate of Heaven, all by himself. The time has not come as yet.

After his own treachery, he must have been lonely, afraid to face the judgment of humanity. May be, meeting with God, only God, would help him in his situation. He needed to prove that he was worthy of the blessings bestowed upon him.

He hoped to reinvent himself far from home. Panting on his way, he ran not to look back until he reached a safe distance. Darkness has descended on his way. He was tired, exhausted.

He looked around, found a flat stone, and used it as a pillow. He slept there and he had a dream. In his dream, he saw the angels of walking up and down stretching from his makeshift bed to the gate of heaven. The Lord talked to him in his sleep.

“Surely, the Lord is in this place. And I was not aware of it. …….This is none other than the house of God; this is the Gate of Heaven” he said, thrilled and afraid. (Genesis 28:16, 17)

Yes, Jacob, the son of Isaac, the grandson of Abraham, it was him we were talking about.

In his most unlikely phase of journey, the Lord met him. He renamed the place, the city of Luz, as Bethel. Bethel meaning, ‘the house of God’ in Hebrew. In other words, Jacob was saying ‘God is here!’

Here, in the life of Jacob, we wanted to reiterate the omnipresence of God and meeting him. In his later life, Jacob even wrestled with God. He was a man whom God met often.

Looking around the world, men seek God and found God in their most unlikely situation. In loneliness, poverty, sickness, or let’s say, in difficult times, men seek God more than before. To those who seek Him, He really gives them comfort that the world cannot give.

When our life was sailing smooth, we sometimes, do not need Him much. Yet He was there taking care of us. God is everywhere but we have some special place to talk to Him.

For some, it might be that lonely Prayer Cabin. For some other, it might be their Place of Worship. That quiet Washroom in the corner might be the place for some to talk to Him. We are blessed to be His sons and daughters, by the blood of Christ, who can talk to Him anytime anywhere, more than to our father here on earth.

Our Bethel:

My father and mother led us to a place of prayer when we are young. I remember my father spending long hours inside the prayer cabin. I used to wonder what my father was praying for. Why my father could spent long hours inside the cabin? By now, I could understand the joy of spending time there.

In our difficult times, when something troubled us, father led us to the prayer cabin – the place he called as our Bethel, to let know the crisis to God. Although our problems did not get solved instantly, we can have peace of mind in everything when we are done visiting our Bethel.

We might not be blessed as Jacob in our Bethel but we can really rely on Him. Many of those unwanted events; our business not taking off, the crop failing, and many more, lead us to seek his presence in our life.

Reinvent:

At some point in our life, we wanted to reinvent ourselves. How we try and reinvent could be different. But reinventing without meeting our creator might not be meaningful at all. Reinventing without God would be worst than before when we fall.

Surely, there is someone who’d meet us in any circumstances. That Bethel – the House of God, could be in our heart.

Even when we did not notice God is here with us. Leading us on our path or making us fall for our own benefit.

In that very quiet place, in that pit where we fall, in that hopelessness, we can hear His voice: Giving us the will to go on as long as it takes, till we meet Him face to face.

Our situation might be better or worse than the Biblical Jacob but in everything He is here with us. In the face and challenges of life, we will not be left alone. We could enjoy meeting often because He is here!

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you’”, declares Christ the Lord. (John 14:18)

Jacob was never left alone throughout his pilgrimage. The Lord, he met on his way, was always with him.

The Small Cabin – a place of hope

I’d just graduated from High School.  It was time to move into universities.  My friends and my peers are busy juggling their choice of universities.   For me, it doesn’t seem to happen soon as I wanted.

There was no money in our family balance sheet for entering a prestigious university.  Since Daddy involved us in maintaining the balance sheet at a very young age, and I know, there is no money.  There is no point of putting up a demand, which cannot be met.  It will simply lead to unwanted misunderstandings for a moment.

At that time, we lived in the western corner of a small town.  Nearby our house, there was a place designated for prayer but not yet in used.  In the family, we called it as ‘our Bethel – our place of prayer,’ taken from the biblical Bethel.  Every evening, just before dark, Daddy led us there to kneel and pray.  So the practice of talking to God was inculcated in us.

One day the thought of spending time alone with God, acknowledging my needs and concerns, came in my mind.  I asked Daddy for his permission to go alone in a prayer mountain, which was located at the outskirts in the eastern side of our town.

Daddy agreed with the idea.  So, in the evening I set out carrying the Bible, hymn books, and some candles to be lighted in the night.

Prayer Cabins
NPT Prayer Hill

There are number of small Prayer Cabins made available for anyone who wanted to spend time with God.  It was maintained by the Nehemiah Prayer Team based in the vicinity of our town.  I’d occupied one such cabin by myself – all alone.  I was there for three days and four nights, fasting – without eating a thing.

I’d sang and prayed through day and night.  I’d started pouring out my heart.  My secrets were made known to God, especially those I could not afford to tell anyone.  In that way, letting myself emptying.  There was no time for sleeping.  It was as if someone came down to spend time with me.  It was a great feeling.  It was a time I will never forget in a life time.  My request and thanksgiving were let known to Him.  It was a time to commune with my God.

In between, I remember singing several devotional songs like –  ‘God will make a way’, ‘There is none like you’ by Don Moen, ‘Pass me not…’ by Fanny J Crosby, and many more.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11 reads.  This is a ‘very promising verse’ in a ‘very unpromising chapter’ of the Book of Jeremiah.

Now that the fourth night was over, the Caretaker of the place came and informed.  My brother came to pick me up and bring me home.  I was happy to spend such time at a very young age.  However, my request to God for a prestigious university did not happen for one year.  I felt lighter and happier than before.

I am blessed to work as a small time Teacher in an Elementary School at that time.  After a few months, I got settled in my job.  I loved spending time with the school children, imparting knowledge as much as I can.  I also enjoyed their company through the day.  I was thoroughly enjoying my role as a teacher.  Even more so, I earned money for the family and my enrolment in a local college.  It was a tight schedule from morning to evening, and I was really happy.

One year had already passed, when one day, I got a long distance call from one of my Uncle.  He was enquiring if I would like to pursue college degree from a prestigious university.  I was informed that they could spare some amount from his hard-earned money towards my study expenses.  And that I might pursue higher studies if I wanted to.  Now, I was overwhelmed by what God has done.

Even after one year, when my hope has already become thin, He answered my prayer. Not all prayers are answered, there are unanswered prayers too.  I praise God for His unfailing faithfulness!

We discussed the matter with my father, and agreed to take advantage of the ‘help’.  I was fit and healthy then.  So, with high hopes, I set out to enter one of the top universities of our country.   I started there and go on to complete my master’s degree in few years.

Unexpected twist and turns are experienced over the phases of life.  However, one thing that never deserted me – ‘His presence’ – the presence of God even in the worst crisis of life.  I do believe, He will lead me Home safe and sound, when all life’s works are completed.

Written based on my journals.