*Who dwells within His most secret place
Is never far from His blessed grace.
‘Neath His great shadow all will be well;
No better place now for us to dwell.
The secret place of God most high,
The shadow of our mighty King;
The dwelling place where angels cry
Is where our praise will forever ring.
It’s amazing how easy it is to get out from under the shadow of the one who cares for us most. My new puppy doesn’t know this. He’s always walking in my shadow, so close that I step on his paws and trip. For a while, I thought he’d never learn that if he’s in my shadow, he gets clobbered – not to mention I nearly fall and break my teeth. But alas, he is slowly learning. As a pair, we are beginning to look as if we know what we’re doing instead of like we are both newly enrolled in circus training.
For humans and God, it’s different. We want (need!) to be in God’s shadow. He never gets tripped up by our presence, and by abiding there, we become safe. His shadow, underneath His wings, is our hiding place. Our secret spot, where nothing can harm us. Where we can find rest no matter what kind of storm we are enduring.
I forgot that this past week. A particularly wicked storm has been stirring for the last few weeks (hence the lack of blog posts). It’s not my storm, per se. But sometimes when there’s a storm rumbling in the lives of those close to us, the storm automatically becomes ours. What I’m trying to say is that other people’s stress has been cast onto me, whether wittingly or unwittingly. In turn, I’ve been stressed, which always results in me (and my mother) being sicker than normal, which always results in me finding it more difficult to focus on the One waiting to provide relief rather than on the storm itself.
In short, I’ve needed a shadow to hide in, but when life gets hectic and stressful and void of proper sleep, I seem to lose the ability to tuck myself in the welcoming darkness, or to access the blessed grace that’s never far away, as it may seem. The storm arrives, and it’s as if I’m being shot at by arrows, never catching a second or two to slither under a rock for protection, shade, and secrecy.
That doesn’t mean the protection isn’t there, of course. It just means that I’ve yet to learn, in every circumstance, to take, thanks to Jesus, my rightful hiding place.
Corrie ten Boom knew how to shadow-hide, even in the concentration camps during Hitler’s reign. There was no place to hide from her earthly troubles, of course. Prison and everything that came with it wasn’t like that. She endured filthy conditions. Embarrassing encounters with guards who required her to undress in front of them. Difficult, angry people, and many other mistreatments – all for unjust reasons. But she kept her focus, and that focus rubbed off on others, gave others hope, and continues to do so today even though she has been in Heaven for decades. Her legacy of finding a Hiding Place in the midst of unfathomable circumstances lives on.
So I have work to do. You probably do, too. But it’s stories like Corrie’s that remind us that remaining in the Secret Place is possible, come what may. And of course, the Scriptures also assure us it’s possible. The invitation to hide always stands. It’s whether or not we attend the event that remains to be seen.
I don’t want to claim that I’m a modern day Job, or that my circumstances are so much worse than the average Josephine. Clearly, other people’s trials are often more intense than mine. But what I’ve noticed about my own trials is that they are so … lengthy. Truly relentless. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, and I’m on year 35 of battling chronic illnesses that refuses to slink away in some shadow, in a place far far away from me. It is hell bent on torturing me in a way I sometimes feel powerless to combat. It does not only take a physical toll. It takes a mental and emotional toll. Add other people’s trials on top of that, and I become particularly oppressed. Bogged down in a sea of heavy, proverbial quick sand.
But as Sproul says in his song … I’m never far from His blessed grace. I only forget that I am. I assume I’m alone, because the physical faces I see tell me that I am. So do the words that come out of their face. In my heart of hearts, I know God is the only one who knows my pain, my struggle, my hurt. Still, I forget. I am but dust. Thankfully, He remembers I am but dust, and He is faithful to always give me a little pat on the butt to nudge me back into His shadow, the best place to dwell. Depending on how stubborn I’m being, He uses a little more force that feels like the swats we used to get at school for being naughty. Either way, I get where I need to be — in The Secret Place of God most high, the dwelling place where angels cry.
May that be where my praise rings, always. In Heaven, yes. But on earth, too.
*taken from The Secret Place, by R.C. Sproul