Towards the end of 2008 while friends were praying for me they said, “I feel like you are going to Bethel”. To which, I responded, “yeah I am going to visit.” Less than a year later, my car was packed and a friend and I made the 2000 mile journey to begin first year. I started first year in a bit of a frazzled place. 2008 had been one the best/hardest/strangest years of my life. My heart was about to start sorting through that season and Bethel was the perfect place for that.
Here’s a few things I learned-
1. We can never overestimate the goodness of God. As I said, I came to Bethel picking up the pieces of my heart and what I learned is how to hope again, actually like never before! I watched people who truly believed that God is good all the time.
2. He doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but he does promise to work ALL things together for our good. My last Sunday at Bethel I wept. For so many reasons, but one being that the worship leader was joyfully proclaiming that God is good. What’s so special about that you might think? Well, a few short months ago, his son was born pre-mature and didn’t make it. We undoubtedly face resistance on this earth, Jesus told us we would, but thanks to the examples I’ve seen at Bethel I am learning that my loving Heavenly Father is not the one to blame.
3. At the end of the day, it all boils down to friendship and intimacy with God. I sat in a Bethel staff meeting a couple weeks back, and staff where asking Bill Johnson questions about praying for the sick. As he answered their question, it wasn’t a formula, it was about connecting to God and His heart for people.
4. How to embrace mystery. The first message I heard Bill preach was on Divine Tensions. The premise is that we don’t know all the answers, and that is okay! All God desires is that we KNOW Him, and that is our anchor for the seas of life.
It hasn’t all been an easy season. So many don’t understand Bethel. I get it. The Internet can paint a terrifying and in accurate picture of it. There’s an intense spirit of fear attached to those lies. When you know the people involved, their families, the cost the paid, and the lifestyle they live, it’s truly unfortunate.
There has been a cost. I have paid a price, but what I have gained is a beautiful treasure. I am forever thankful. Bethel doesn’t do everything perfect. That’s no secret, but it’s one of the most amazing conglomeration of hungry, hopeful, pure, gracious, want to change the world humans I’ve encountered in my 30 years of bopping about this planet called earth. Yes humans, nobody’s perfect, but for some reason God has been using imperfect humans since the beginning. (Oh wait, that is His only option if He wants to include any of us!)
Thank you Bethel for teaching me how to hope in the unseen and so much more. Thank you for loving us, speaking truth over us, and calling us a son and a daughter. I am forever grateful.