~ The Secret Place ~
"Lord, chase away and confuse all who plan to harm me. Send your angel after them and let them be like straw in the wind. Make them run in the dark on a slippery road, as your angel chases them.
"I did them no harm, but they hid a net to trap me, and they dug a deep pit to catch and kill me. Surprise them with disaster! Trap them in their own nets, and let them fall and rot in the pits they have dug...
"You protect the helpless from those in power; you save the poor and needy from those who hurt them...
"Liars accuse me of crimes I know nothing about. They repay evil for good, and I feel all alone. When they were sick, I wore sackcloth and fasted. I truly prayed for them, as I would for a friend or a relative...
"Disappoint and confuse all who are glad to see me in trouble, but disgrace and embarrass my proud enemies who say to me, 'You are nothing!'
"Let all who want me to win be happy and joyful. From now on let them say, 'The Lord is wonderful! God is glad when all goes well for his servant.' Then I will shout all day, 'Praise the Lord God! He did what was right.'" (Psalm 35:4-8, 10-14, 26-28 CEV)
Were there times when you could have easily prayed these words of King David as your own? In his Psalms, David writes frequently of his enemies, mostly physical ones, while the New Testament writers speak of both physical and spiritual enemies. The New Testament is also quite clear that the physical enemies are animated and influenced by the invisible satanic army of fallen angels. (Read Ephesians 6, for example.) The veil separating the view of the interactions between the physical and spiritual worlds is quite thin indeed, and very transparent in the light of Truth.
In a Psalm attributed to Moses, there is mention of the "secret place of the Most High." (Psalm 91:1) David also writes of this secret place in Psalm 27: "For in time of trouble he shall hide me in his shelter; in the secret of his tabernacle he shall hide me." (V. 5) "You will hide them (who trust in you) in the secret of your presence from the pride of men; you will keep them secretly in a shelter from vicious tongues." (Psalm 31:20) "You are my hiding place..." (Psalm 32:7)
Warriors of all kinds, in both physical and spiritual battlefields, need and have a secret hiding place, a hidden shelter or camp to which to retreat for rest and renewal. Many of us feel battered by the demands of daily living. So it's been said, "Lord, I have so much to do today, I must pray twice as long as usual." Jesus' life on earth was immensely demanding, so He frequently withdrew and prayed all night. Furthermore, there are many of us who can pray Psalm 35 from our own hearts and are experiencing battle fatigue in the brutal assaults of evil. We need a secret hiding place, and indeed, God provides it. We only need to enter, namely His Presence, in a conscious, deliberate way.
In another Psalm, David declares, "Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him. God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe, and he is the fortress where I feel secure." (Psalm 62:5-6) There is, however, a significant characteristic of the spiritual warrior's secret hiding place. The battlegrounds are deafeningly noisy, but the secret place is peacefully quiet. Jesus told us to pray in a quiet hiding place, both physically and metaphorically: "Go into your closet and close the door." (Matthew 6:6) God tells us, "Be still! Know that I am God!" (Psalm 46:10)
For God to say to know or learn of Him in this way is similar to how He taught Elijah to perceive Him, as He "passed by." (1 Kings 19:11) What would you expect to see as the Lord passes by you? Hurricane winds tearing down mountains? Earthquakes? Great fire? Elijah saw all that, but the Scriptures explain the Lord was not revealing Himself to Elijah in those ways, but rather in "a still, small voice" that came only after all the commotion stopped.
There is an important feature of this account of Elijah's encounter with God that must not be overlooked. The prophet was in a secret place, a cave, hiding out of fear for his life. God, however, had a comment about that in the form of a question: "What are you doing here?" Obviously, that secret place was not God's!
We, also, must be sure that the places (which include activities and practices) in which we choose to hide are indeed holy and in God's presence. Too often , we seek refuge and renewal in our own selves with misplaced faith. "I am the Lord All-Powerful. So don't depend on your own power or strength, but on my Spirit." (Zechariah 4:6)
Another important feature of this encounter was that God pursued Elijah! Jesus explained to His followers, "You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. Then my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name. (John 15:16) Christ pursued and chose us. If we don't produce the everlasting fruit He wants, the spiritual storms and battles will prune us and the Holy Spirit will produce in us the fruit that comes from resting our roots deep in His secret place.
Let us commit to finding an hour every day to enter our prayer closets in reverent stillness and silence, praying to hear His still, small voice, then quieting our minds long and intently enough to hear Him. And you will hear Him! He has chosen you to pursue and bear everlasting fruit!
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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Weekly Reflections © December 16, 2000
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