The Secret Place
Psalm 91:1 says, "He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." For a long time, I assumed that the shadow of the Almighty refers to a warm, cozy place, like being tucked under the wings of a mother hen. But the shadow of the Almighty, in this verse, does not refer to His wings. The Secret Place is where He tucks us under His wings.
Consider James 1:17 that says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." We can understand that to come under the shadow of God's wings means that we find a covering protection in Him, but James says that God has no shadow, in the sense that He is so powerful a light that He does not even cast a shadow.
I believe that the shadow that Psalm 91 refers to is tribulation for His Name's sake. Think about it. If we abide in the Secret Place, that is, live continually in intimacy with God, we will not bail out when God requires us to endure tribulation. Tribulation might consist of a season of lack, which God wants us to learn how to endure with gratitude, faith, and cheerfulness, while continuing to claim His promises of supply. It might consist of continuing in faith for our healing or the healing of loved ones. Or the shadow might consist of enduring persecution for His Name's sake.
The shadow is a place of darkness. It is a place sometimes of confusion, of not understanding what is going on, but continuing to trust God, regardless. It is the shadow of the cross, which is an offense to the world, and being persecuted by the world because of that cross.
A man mocked me about my faith. He said, "Lanny, what has God ever done for you? You're a good person, but look at all the stuff that has happened to you. Look at what your husband did to you. And look at me. I do wrong things, but look at all the stuff I've got." Yes, he was a very successful businessman. He had a beautiful wife who loved him, two wonderful kids, and a large, luxurious house with a swimming pool in the backyard. All I could think of to say was, "Well, I'm glad that God has blessed you." He gave an odd, little laugh at my reply, but said nothing further.
I was going through a lot of tribulation, but I had peace and joy in spite of it, which is great treasure to me. It would have seemed feeble to point that out to this man, though. I don't think he could imagine having peace and joy if his wife was not faithful to him, or if he didn't have his children with him, or if he lived in a dinky, little place and didn't have a car to drive.
There are people who seem to have it all – fame, good looks, money, a mansion to live in, a fabulous wardrobe, numerous cars to drive, beautiful–looking people to go to bed with, and they can fly to Paris for dinner if they feel like it, but they put a gun to their head or swallow an overdose of drugs because none of their privileges brought them the satisfaction that they thought they would.
What I have with Yeshua is something that I could not endure if it was taken away, even if I lived in a palace and had every good thing the world can offer. Solomon had all that and he concluded that it gave only transistory satisfaction and ended in frustration.
I have peace. Real peace. I am not saying that I never worry or feel dissatisfied, but beneath that, I have a core of peace in my spirit that battles against the weaknesses in my soul and establishes the Kingdom of God there, increasingly taking more territory in His Name.
I know that when I die, I will go to be with Him in Heaven. I have peace by knowing that God is in control and is working things out for good, in spite of the bad things that happen in the world. I have peace because I know that I am never alone, for Yeshua said that He will never leave or forsake me. I have peace because I know that He has forgiven me of all my sins and washed me clean. I don't bear the burden of that filth any longer. Hallelujah!
I have peace knowing that anything I suffer in this life will be made up to me many times over in the next because my Heavenly Father is so tender towards His children. Though He permits them to suffer so that they will learn vital truths and develop more character, His heart yearns for them in their suffering and He sees to it that they are compensated far beyond what they could have imagined.
Think of it this way. When our kids fall down and scrape their knee, we clean the wound, put antibiotic ointment on it, and a bandage, then we kiss it better and give them some hugs. God does all that, but He kisses the knee a lot more, hugs for far longer, and sets up a trust fund of millions of dollars because we had to suffer having a scraped knee. What He does for suffering that is more than a scraped knee is right off the charts.
There is nothing that we go through that God overlooks. He even has angels recording every hair on our body and cataloguing what happens to them. "Oh, look at that. Lanny is having a shower and hairs #482,874, #857,456, #457,754, and #979,762 have gone down the drain."
This kind of reassurance about God's concern for us comes when a person dwells in the Secret Place. It is not a time that has been set apart for prayer. It is a continual abiding in God's presence, a constant communion with Him.
I was inspired years ago when I read a book called The Practice of the Presence of God. It was about the faith of a man named Brother Lawrence, who lived about 400 years ago. I was at my mother–in–law's place going through her books when I noticed it, opened it, scanned it, and thought, "Man, that looks boring!" and slammed it shut. For some unfathomable reason, I borrowed it along with a few other books. I didn't look at it at all for the next two years, until after my husband left me and I was going through a nervous breakdown. I could not have borrowed the book then, as the relationship with my mother–in–law was now broken off.
I opened the book one day while I was isolated in my home, and immediately the words started to grab me. I was astounded at what I read of the relationship that Brother Lawrence had with God. I thought, "Wow! You mean to say that we don't have to rely on getting a jump start on Sunday when we go to church that will keep us going throughout the week? We can have this all the time?"
I read the unabridged edition of The Practice of the Presence of God, which is much richer than the modern edition that assumes that most people nowadays are simpletons who don't have the vocabulary to comprehend the older edition. Brother Lawrence was a footman to a nobleman. He joined a Carmelite monastery because he considered himself a "great, awkward fellow who ought to be made to smart for his sins." He said that God had disappointed him in this because he had found nothing but joy in the monastery.
I don't endorse Roman Catholicism, but I do acknowledge that some Catholics are genuine Christians who have come to salvation through the Anointed Lord Yeshua. Brother Lawrence seems to have been in that number. Inspired by his story, I began to live in a constant awareness of God, instead of turning to Him only when I got myself in trouble after nothing else I tried to alleviate my situation worked. God wants to be our first resort rather than our last resort. It sure saves us a lot of grief when we turn to Him right away.
It has been over twenty years that I have stayed in constant communion with God, and it has been so good! Yeshua is my Best Friend. My heart constantly refers matters to Him for His feedback, which I get by filtering everything I see and hear through His Word. Even when I sleep, that filtering process continues. I dream, and I think within my dream, "What does this mean? Oh, Lord, I didn't know that was in my heart. Heal me from my depravity. God, help me to do the things that please You." This awareness comes from making a conscious decision when I am awake to lay up God's Word within my heart that I might not sin against Him.
Toils and snares are ahead of us. That's just how it is in this life. The only way we can get through the challenges is by abiding in the Secret Place, not by just visiting it. It has to be the place where we live. And there are degrees of abiding.
Think of the Secret Place as a chamber in God's heart. You get up on His lap and snuggle into His bosom, and then go right into His bosom. You can go deeper into the bridal chamber, and get to know Him in increasing intimacy. It will take a whole Eternity for God to unfold the wonders of His heart, and we will never come to the end of it. It's amazing. It's awesome. He has got such interesting things to reveal to us, but we don't have to wait until we get to Heaven before we begin that journey of discovery. The door is open right now.
When we fill ourselves with God and get addicted to Him, then we won't want to give up what we have with Him when pressure comes against us. The joy and peace we have in our hearts will be so intense that it will exceed the outside pressure. Yes, that's why the Bible calls it peace that passes understanding, and joy unspeakable. Earthly measures do not apply to what God gives us. When life casts its shadows, we will be able to say as the prophet Micah, "Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O my enemy: when I fall, I shall arise;1 when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me."
Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
1I fell. For 5 1/2 years, I was discouraged and hardly read my Bible or went to church, but as Micah said, I got back up again, by the grace of God. During that time, I felt like I was walking on the edge of the pit, no longer confident of going to Heaven when I died. I was wasting time, not doing what I was called to do. I had no peace and only transitory joy that was dependent on circumstances. I felt like my soul was being threshed, showing me that I had been judgmental and I certainly had no right to judge anyone. It is a great relief to be back on track with God.