In the Secret Place
My favorite place to meet with Jesus is on the mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee where He gave his famous Sermon on the Mount also known as the beatitudes. The first time I met with Him there was when I was in Israel. Of all the wonderful sites we visited, meeting with Him that morning was the most meaningful. I looked out over the Sea of Galilee, and the Bible came alive. I visualized Jesus out there on the sea in a boat with his disciples. They were fishing, and Jesus was hanging out with them. Then He came up and joined me, and we spent time together. Ever since that day, it has become my favorite place to go in my mind to meet with Him. I call it my secret place.
The Bible talks about the secret place. In Psalm 139:15 (NIV), it is talking about the mother's womb: "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place."
But a secret place is not always a physical location. Psalm 27:5 (NASB) says, "For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent, He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock." David wasn't referring to a physical tabernacle or tent. He wasn't saying "Go to church when you want to be with Jesus. We can pray and spend time with Him anywhere at anytime. Having a physical place to go where you can be alone with Jesus is a good thing. And going to church is a good thing. But it's also good to have a "place" where you feel safe and protected even though it's not physical. For me, it is a real place, but I only go there in my imagination.
The idea of a secret place originated with God. He is the author. Because we cannot see Him physically and He is more than we can comprehend, when we meet with Him in a secret place in our heart or our imagination, we connect with Him. We enter His presence without physically seeing Him.
Why is it good to have a secret place? Psalm 91:1 (WEB) gives us a clue: "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." You will be under the Lord's protection. Some versions say "shelter" instead. The term "secret place" comes from the Hebrew root word cether meaning "to hide or be concealed." When you dwell or live in this place of safety, you will declare, "He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. (Ps. 91:2). It goes on to talk about being rescued from every trap and protected from deadly disease. You will be covered with His feathers and sheltered by His wings. His promises will be your protection and armor. You won't be afraid of what comes but will see things from God's perspective. You won't be conquered by evil, but protected by His angels. All of this sounds amazing, so why do so few people experience this on a daily basis? Because even if we have a secret place, we tend to visit rather than live there. The idea of living there all the time is foreign to us.
I confess I don't know how to live there. I get so bogged down with life, that I forget that Jesus is with Me all the time. I don't always recognize I have left Him to go about my business...doing it my way and not even asking Him what He thinks. But I am learning, and Jesus is patient. He loves when I take the time to be with Him.
And I love the times I have with Him, but if they are experiences only, with no transformation and no eyes to see the connections between what happens in the secret place and what then takes place in the physical world, then it is useless. I become addicted to the experience, with little change. Spending time with Jesus results in being transformed to be more like Him. He wants to
shepherd us and teach us just like He did the disciples. He taught them to "Go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:6). I can't say how He will reward you, but I can tell you that He will.
One time when I was despondent and tempted to be bitter, I met with Him. We were sitting face to face, and I was sharing my pain with Him. He asked me to give it to Him, and I did. I pictured myself handing it over. He took it, and I never saw it again. He got up and came over and showed me a stone heart. He put it inside me and said, "There, now your heart of stone has been changed to a heart of flesh." I started crying in the physical. I knew what He meant. My bitterness would have been like that heart of stone. When He placed the heart inside me, and it became a heart of flesh, I was filled with peace. I saw the connection, and I know He wants to do that again when I am tempted to let my hurt become a source of bitterness.
The secret place can be a place you envision in your mind like mine is, or it can be some other way that is meaningful to you. Being with Jesus, listening and sharing, can happen in many ways, as we've seen in Scripture. But the idea of a secret or hiding place is biblical, and Jesus invites us to live there permanently, not just visit occasionally.