The Healing Power of Going Back
Apr 12, 2021 1998
There are plenty of movies about time travel with the hero going back into the past to fix the present. Don’t you wish you could do that? I think we’ve all wished that.
But even though the real world isn’t like the movies, there is something we can do. We can always go back and start the process of healing. A good example of this is the story of Jacob in the Bible.
When you think about it, Jacob had had a pretty rough life! Through his life-journey, he had broken his relationship with his parents, a broken relationship with his brother, and then a broken relationship with his uncle, and then with his wife. Fourteen years ago, his brother had come after him to kill him so he had run away and escaped from his own country to a faraway land. And now there was no-where left to run. There was no place left to hide from the mess he had made of his life.
In Genesis 35:4, we read what happened next:
Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”
There are places in our lives that we haven’t visited in a long time, and to which it’s good to go back.
The story behind this is that Jacob had stopped at Bethel fourteen years earlier, like the verse says, when he was running away from his brother. The name “Bethel” means “the house of God.” At Bethel, Jacob had had a dream in which God had promised him that wherever Jacob went, he would be with him, and he would bless him, and that his story would have a happy ending, because God would bring him safely back to his own country.
When you think of how you’ve messed up your lives, it’s important to go back and to squarely face and to deal with your past.
In the end, whether you realise it or not, your relationship with God will determine, in one way or another, your relationship with others. How are your relationships going? To unravel the twisted threads of your life, and to restore these relationships, you need to restore your relationship with God first.
To do that, you too need go back to Bethel, just like Jacob did. However, it’s also important to go back to your “happy places.” I think that most of us have experienced these times in our lives. Many of us grew up in church. The truth is that some of us had very hurtful experiences with religion.
Going back to the “Bethel” in your life is good.
But most of us did experience moments with God of profound happiness, assurance, and peace. And then, in the years that followed, as we faced the realities of living, these special moments have been buried by the headlong rush of life, the quest for pleasure, hurts, betrayals, and the cynicism that grows like a cancer over time.
That’s why God called Jacob back to Bethel. And Jacob listened and he went. There at Bethel, Jacob’s life was renewed and his healing began. And God went on to fulfil all of his promises to Jacob.
I can’t say what that means for you. Perhaps God is asking you to take a long hard look at yourself. Perhaps God is calling you back to trusting in him. Or perhaps God is even calling you back to church. But what I can say with confidence is that we all have our “Bethel” and it’s good to go back.