The Bethel Experience

I’m doing something this morning that I don’t get to do very often.  But, it is something that I enjoy immensely.  I’m sitting on my patio taking in the beauty of God’s creation and enjoying a cup of Starbucks coffee.  It is peaceful here.  The cicadas, crickets and crows are my serenade.  The sun is shining brightly and there is a cool breeze blowing across my back yard.  I have been reading the Word and meditating on what I hear from the Spirit…not a literal voice, but the thoughts that God’s Word brings to mind.  It’s good.

Life is often too busy to do this.  Sad, but true; I don’t take time like this to relax and hear from God in such a distraction-free environment without the nagging realization in the back of my mind that there are things I need to be doing.  It is these times, however, that remind me of what I am missing when I neglect such focused efforts.  I am missing a greater awareness and realization of the presence of God.  What a loss.  Can I manage without such an awareness?  I can function and carry on, but not effective and with the spiritual capability that I need.  What is the answer?

I need to learn to practice the presence of God.  Jacob learned this vital lesson through a dream he had (Genesis 28:10-22).  He had just deceived his brother, Esau, and had to flee from his home as a result.  As he was on his way to his uncle’s house to let things cool down at home, he stopped for the night to sleep near Luz.  While there, he had a vision that reminded him of God’s presence and promises.  Awaking from this dream with fear and awe of God’s power, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” To commemorate the event, Jacob set up a stone memorial and called the place Bethel, which means “house of God.”

Sometimes it takes a “Bethel” experience to remind us of the presence of God.  It doesn’t have to be a vision of angels going up and down a ladder.  It can be something as simple as a Saturday morning meeting with God on your patio.  It can be worshipping together with a friend over a cup of coffee as you share and pray.  It can be your small group talking about how God has answered prayer and then entering into worship of the God who answers prayers as you practice His presence.

Will you practice the presence of God today?  Maybe this little post can be a “Bethel” experience for you.  Set up a “memorial” today and determine from this point forward to seek to practice the presence of God daily.  Share your experience with your small group as a catalyst for conversation about practicing the presence of God.  For more thoughts from the Word about God’s presence, check out Psalm 139.


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