The Secret Place discusses about how important God's dwelling is. I do struggle a lot to spend time in the closet, probably more than most of you. And yet I realised how important it is as it was where I found my healing, rest, and shelter.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. Psalm 23:2-3a
What is a secret place?
The word ‘secret’ means secluded, sheltered, or withdrawn. Rest means refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor; relief or freedom, esp. from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs; a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility.
A secret place is a place where we take time-off from the hustle and bustle of life, away from the concerns, worries and demands of the world, and even a break from ministry and church work; to spend time simply resting in the presence of God.
This kind of rest is not simply a get-away from activities, nor is it done by ‘emptying’ our minds. Resting in God is simply being still and knowing that He is God (Psalms 46:10). It is allowing ourselves time to commune with God and to hear His voice, to refresh and recharge our spiritual lives, and it is often also a place to safety. Without constantly spending time in the secret place, our lives will be full of chaos, and we will eventually suffer a burn-out.
Importance of being in the secret place
Much as rest is needed for our physical bodies, it is even more important for our soul, mind and spirit. Many people rest after a long day of work, but they fail to rest when their soul is weary. Their minds continue to work and work until it runs down. And then, the next thing they realized is that physical strength seems to be slipping away too, even without much physical work. Often we have time for every other thing, but have no time to spend time in the secret place.
God wants us to rest. In fact, many verses in the Bible, especially Psalms, instructs us to run to the secret place. God knows how much we need to set our minds and souls at rest, and so does the devil. In fact, rest is so important that it is one of the main deceptive tools that Satan uses to keep Christians off-track - to work and serve all the while thinking that they are making God happy. But what God wants is for us to have an alert mind, a sensitive spirit, and a well-replenished soul.
There is also much security in that secret place. Just a sense of knowing that God is there, just to know that His presence is around can bring a lot of peace to our turbulent souls. So often when troubles come we rush to the phone first instead of the throne. We seek help from others first before going to God. When in actual fact, God is the one who is always ready for us, with open arms.
As Christians we need to realize that there is a secret place that we need to constantly go to. It is a place of shelter, a place of strength, a place to be filled again with His spirit, and a place to rejuvenate. The effectiveness of our ministry for God is very much dependant on how much time we spend in the secret place.
A Hiding Place
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
A relationship breakup. A sudden loss of a loved one. Someone came to threaten or intimidate you. A good friend has turned his back on you without warning.
When things like these happen, what do we do? Often we are caught by surprise. And surprises like these are often not easy to be dealt with. In fact, we often make hasty decisions which we will regret later. Things may seem to be going so well in one minute, and the next minute everything just explodes.
Life is never without chaos or turbulent waves. There are always things that happen that will shake our faith and rob the peace from us. Sometimes we think that the day is going go smoothly only to be caught unaware by the storms. When we face these sudden, abrupt changes in life, what do we do? Where do we go to? Who do we look for?
God always pictures Himself as our Protector, but do we receive His protection? He provides us with a place where no evil can harm us. It is total security. He gives the assurance that no matter what the enemy tries to do, we shall not be harmed. At the same time, it is in that secret place where He binds up our wounds. It is where all the hurts inflicted during the battles of life are being taken care off. It is a place of absolute trust in God, knowing that He will take care of our needs.
A place to receive Strength
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)
The secret place is a place to rest our weary souls. After fighting a tough battle, we need to find enough rest. We need to replenish the strength by resting. But why is it that there is only rest and strength or our souls in that place? What makes it so special? What has joy got to do with strength?
“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the JOY of the Lord is your STRENGTH!” Nehemiah 8:10c
And so here we see a connection between joy and strength. Nehemiah exhorts the people of God not to be dejected or upset because the walls have been ruined, for sadness and depression only drains our strength. When joy is absent, strength is lost. That is the reason why often when we feel upset, worried or depressed about something, we will actually feel very weary not only mentally and emotionally, but physically as well. The truth is, depression sucks the strength out of us.
Because the joy of the Lord is our strength, and that there is fullness of joy in the presence of God, therefore it is important for us to spend time in that place. A weak Christian is a vulnerable Christian. Satan knows that the moment he gets us over-worked, that is when we gets the hold of us. We must realize that we need the strength that comes from God. We need to learn to rest in His dwelling, and to allow joy to fill our hearts again.
A place to refill our cup
You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
The Shepard Psalm is an amazing psalm of total rest and reliance on God. Here, the Psalmist literally revealed all that one can receive in the secret place where God is in total control.
It is in that place when we receive that anointing to serve God. Often we try to prove our worth to God by serving in one ministry after another, but we have forgotten or are completely ignorant of our most important ministry – our ministry to God. God did not call us simply to serve Him only. God has called us as worshippers. Serving God comes as a result of our love for Him. But that does not exclude us from our main duty.
When we keep giving and giving to the ministry without allowing God to fill our cups from time to time, we will come to a point where we have nothing left to give. In the end, we become so burnout that many Christians have quit ministry because of that. They put the blame on God saying that God is unfaithful when in actual fact, they were the ones who have failed to come to have their cups filled. You cannot give what you do not have.
Many men and women of God in the Bible know the importance of rest. King David, Elijah, Elisha, and the disciples take frequent time-offs to spend time with God in order to be more effective in their ministry. Even Jesus will always retreat to the mountains after a long day of ministry, to spend time with His Father before continuing to minister to the sick. If Jesus had to have His cup refilled, what more to say us, as His followers?
A place to seek directions
There are many times in our lives when we will need to know what God wants us to do in a certain situation. We need the wisdom of God. There are decisions that we need God to help us make.
When we need an answer, that answer is often found in the secret place. We must understand that when we come into His presence, it is no longer our will, our thoughts, or our desires. We need to get our spirit connected with His, so that we can hear clearly from God.
There are many biblical examples whereby kings came before the Lord before a battle, to seek for direction. One of such examples is King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:1). And each time when God’s directions are heeded, the battle is won. But should they fail to seek God’s advice, they are at the losing end.
It is very important to know God’s will for our lives, and what He wants us to do. God’s plans are always bigger than ours. It is only our choice to choose between His will and ours.
We will always have reasons why we do not have the time to go into the secret place. As long as we will continue to give excuses, the world’s voices will always be louder than God’s call into His presence. We all need to make a commitment to get away from the busyness of life and go into His presence.
Whatever that you are going through, no matter how fierce the storms are, there is always a place where you can find security, rest and healing. He is waiting, will you meet Him there?
*All verses are quoted from the New Living Translation unless otherwise stated.