As Jacob was running from Esau, God revealed Himself to Jacob in a place Jacob named Bethel. At that point, Jacob promised that the Lord would be His God if God would eventually bring him back to that place (Gen 28:18-22). On his way back to Canaan, after years of working with Laban, Jacob wrestled with God in a place he named Peniel and learned that his name would be Israel (Gen 32:22-32). Finally, in Gen 35, God led Jacob back to Bethel – the first place where God appeared to him. This time God spoke to Jacob directly, changed his name to Israel, and promised to fulfill his covenant.
What a great example of the process of sanctification. While our walk with God has a definite starting point, God continues to work in us to grow us into the men and women He wants us to be. Sometimes, we need to go back to the place where it all began to realize the faithfulness of God in our lives. What is your Bethel? What spiritual markers define your life? Do you need to go back to the place it all began?