What should you do when you’re discouraged and afraid you’ve lost your way? That’s the question Jacob was facing. And when he turned his heart towards God, here is the answer he got: ‘“Go up to Bethel… build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”’ (Genesis 35:1–3 NIV)
Now, you may not be into idol worshipping, but what do you need to ‘get rid of’? Bethel means ‘the place where God dwells’. So Jacob went back to the place where he had met God, where he had received a vision of his future, and where he had first experienced the joy of living in a covenant relationship with the Lord.
Have you made a mess of your life? Then go back to Bethel, to where you first met God. Build an altar and place your life on it. Do what the Scripture says: ‘In view of God’s mercy… offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.’ (Romans 12:1–2 NIV)