The Bethel Journey

1 05 2016

One of my Bethel Journeys took place 12 years ago shortly after the doctor informed me of a possible malignant tumor in my left lung. I was to be scheduled for more testing Rock _nimmediately, but instead Cathy and I made our way to the Blue Ridge Mountains where we hiked trails that lead us to awe inspiring cascading waterfalls and overlooks to majestic mountains. When we returned home I had the procedures done the doctor and it was found I did not have a tumor.

Another time found me alone walking a mile or better of Lake Erie shoreline in the dead of winter. The water was frozen and brilliant white like Arctic tundra, the wind was whipping around me with a haunting high pitched melody as it skirted across the ice and into the tree line on the shore. The sun was brilliant on that frigid day, with a crystal blue sky that seemed to stretch forever to meet the horizon. A few days later I took a job that didn’t pay as well as I was making at the time but would end up being my occupation for years to come.

Then on a couple of occasions I’d travel back to my birth home in Southern West Virginia and spend hours driving the country back roads through, around and over the mountains that I love so dearly there, and remembering my childhood and the many wonderful people I knew as family that once lived there. At the end of one of those visits I forgave, in my heart, several people I held ill feelings toward.

This last Bethel Journey really didn’t take me to one place, but more continuous driving past lakes, down country roads lined with miles of farmland, quiet drives in a forest and back roads through scores of little communities that make up the landscape commonly referred to as Americana. At the end of this earth bound voyage, I now begin my transition into retirement and whatever God may have in store from here on.

So what exactly is a Bethel Journey and what is its main purpose? Well to say I’m going to Bethel is symbolic really; as you can tell I’ve gone to numerous places and it’s impossible for each place to be named the same. But it isn’t as much about a place as it is a, well, a renewing, a recharging of my life. But mostly it’s relational as it is time spent alone and in communion with the one I call Lord. This is time totally dedicated to talking to God, reading His Word, listening for that small voice inside me that says “I’m here for you.”

In the Bible (Genesis 35) we read about Jacob and his first encounter of meeting God and hearing his voice was at Bethel. Without a doubt when he left that place Jacob left a changed man. But as time went on there were problems and most likely a slipping away from the things in his life he promised to turn over to God. So he returned to Bethel where he renewed his vow and God blessed him once more. Well, for this man there are many times I realize my walk with the Lord is not what is should be, even during times I’ve needed his help the most. When those moments become more than I can bear alone, I return to Bethel. For me it’s found in God’s creation, in the hills and the valleys, in the streams and lakes, in the ocean and the fields. All places that I take in the beauty of this earth become Bethel to me. And when I make these return trips it is spent in hours of prayer, not with formal words to try and impress Him, but conversation, just like you and I would have. Telling Him all that’s on my heart, saying I’m sorry for the times I wander from His guidance, thanking my God for all the blessings (as well as naming them) that He has allowed in my life. And thanking Him for always caring for me; no matter what I do His love stays strong continuously. During these journeys there’s very little radio or TV, this is meant as a time solely set apart to spend with my Lord.

Now then, saying all that; do these Bethel Journeys make me a better person, kinda of a Holy Joe of sort? Nope, I’m still just me, nothing incredibly special. These times are purely meant for giving God all of me without any outside interference. To talk, listen, learn and even heal.

Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Psalm 46:10 – “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Perhaps some see this as senseless; truthfully there was a time I would have thought so also. But I can attest truthfully, each time I have met God like this I have come away refreshed, strengthened and focused on what I need to do.

“We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength.” (Charles Stanley)  And someone else once said, “Spending time with God puts everything else in perspective.”

As I “Travel the Rock Road” the one thing for sure is I need all the help I can get. God is saying “Hey, I’m here for you, come to me.” Give it a shot is all I ask, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

If anyone wants to do their own Bethel Journey and not sure how to get started, give me a shout. Remember, not everyone’s Bethel lies in the same place. But wherever yours may be, God’s already there waiting on you. Awesome!

See ya next time.





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