I have a secret.
Actually it is a secret place.
It is where I hide.
Where I dwell.
Where I remain.
It is my safe place...
right smack in the midst of whatever commotion,
chaos, or turmoil happens to be going on.
It is a place shut out from the world's turbulence
and shut in to only peace.
If I could paint you a verbal picture of my secret place,
I would describe it to you this way.
It is set off the road by a long, winding path....far away from the hustle and bustle.
You will miss it if you aren't watching very closely,
but if you focus, it isn't hard to find.
Just look for the beautiful, old, rustic garden gate
on the right side of the road.
Though its hinges may appear a bit rusty,
it takes very little effort to open.
Once you walk through the gate,
your eyes will feast on much for which your heart longs.
You will come to a bridge that spans troubled waters.
Once you cross over it, you realize the troubles on your mind have been left behind,
dropped below the bridge into the water,
and you think of them no more.
The path is long, but the pleasantness of the surroundings make it a joy to explore.
There are stepping stones....with footprints on them....
to make the path plain.
Strewn on both sides are the most beautiful flowers.
There are roses, hydrangeas, lilacs, honeysuckle, gardenia, and the colors!
Oh, the colors!
Such vibrancy, such depth!
You inhale the mixture of sweet fragrances that completely fill the air.
The closer you get to the secret place,
the more you feel as if you have been on a long, wandering journey,
and are now, at last, coming home.
It is like you have been searching for this very spot your entire life.
It is as if everything in your past has led you to this very moment.
You are tempted to stop....to bask....to breathe in the beauty that overwhelms
and pervades the very atmosphere.
But, the desire to reach the end of the path transcends the enticement to stand still.
So, on you plod.
Each step is filled with wonder, as you notice something new....
the sweet, happy melody of a little songbird resting gently under a shade tree that overshadows the path,
the beams of light that still manage to force their way through the leaves and spread the softest light,
the refreshing, cool breeze that continually blows.
Your senses are completely filled...to the brim....and overflowing.
The overbearing, foreboding sounds of evil you left behind when you entered the path,
are becoming more distant, more remote, with each step you take.
It is quiet here.
You lift your eyes and peer through the shadowing trees to catch a glimpse
of the bluest sky you've ever seen.
Worship springs from someplace deep inside, as your heart fills up with wonder...
for the One Who created it all.
The words of "How Great Thou Art" slip into your mind,
and you find yourself singing, in spite of yourself.
As you drop your eyes to guide your next step,
Dead in your tracks.
For it seems that there is only one step more....to reach the destination your heart craves.
There it is!
The secret place!
Suddenly, every noise is shut out.
Every worry banished.
Every fear absent.
You see His shadow.....
the shadow of the Almighty of Whom, to this point, you have only read and heard....and longed for.
You can't see His face.
But His shadow!
It falls all over the secret place.
Completely envelops, surrounds, undergirds, and covers.
It is impenetrable.
Unable to be pierced....
by the most powerful darts of the outside world.
You are safe.
An unexplainable peace fills your inmost soul,
as you realize every sin is forgiven,
every barrier broken down,
every hindrance eradicated.
It is just you....and Him....
inside the secret place.
Memories of plaguing struggles on the outside seem to begin to fade,
as you fall on your knees and feel the warmth of His shadow.
It is a serenity like you have never known.
A tranquility you have never before experienced.
You wish with all your heart that you could stay there forever.
His voice whispers, "Oh, but you can!"
The world passes by....on the outside....busy, noisy, tumultuous.
You are still in it....but all at once you realize that you are not of it.
You hear Him praying....He is praying... interceding for you.
Your pulse quickens.
Your heart pounds.
Could it be?
You listen closely to His words!
"I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world,
but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
It is the prayer He prayed....so long ago....
shortly before His crucifixion.
It is recorded in the book of St. John, chapter 17...in red letters.
He prays it again...now...here in the solitude.
Jesus Christ is speaking to His Father, Almighty God.
His prayer is for you, my friend.
His plea is that you will always remain in the secret place.
Far removed from the evils that penetrate and permeate our society.
Now that you've found it, He longs for you to stay always.
He implores His Father to keep you here.
He knows what you face every, single day.
He discerns your turmoil-laden life.....
your chaos-infused existence.
He wants more for you.
He seeks to give you abundance of life...
a restful heart....
a peaceful existence.
You listen to Him pray....hardly able to comprehend....
that His plea is for you.
You realize with certainty that it absolutely is.
His plea seems an impossible request.
How can it be?
How can you remain separate?
When the world around you is so infiltrated....completely saturated.....
with the coarsest of evils.
Life must go on.
There are bills to pay.
Meals to cook.
Clothes to launder.
Lessons to teach.
Sermons to preach.
Equations to solve.
Grammar to correct.
History to make interesting.
Projects to complete.
Dishes to wash.
Towels to fold.
Sheets to change.
Toilets to scrub.
Floors to sweep.
Cobwebs to remove.
Furniture to dust.
Husbands to love.
Children to cherish.
Tears to dry.
Neighbors to help.
Hungry to feed.
Thirsty to water.
Naked to clothe.
Sick to serve.
Imprisoned to visit.
Parents to requite.
Babies to hold.
Life to live.
Does the list ever end?
Is it possible?
To dwell here?
In this Eden on earth?
This secret, carefully-hidden, unmarred-by-turmoil place?
In the midst of all of the evil....and all of the demands.....of everyday life?
Everything within you wishes it could be so.
You need this.
You have longed for this....for so long.
You are dog-tired and bone-weary.
Sick of the struggle....the constant uproar....the daily grind.
If only you could just stay here...and never leave.
"It will take effort, My child.
You will need to remain attached.
To Me....your life source.
The vine....out of which all life flows. (John 15:5)
Stay hidden deep....in Me.
Let Me be your barrier.
Turn to Me first....every time you begin to fall apart.
Let Me handle your problems.
Then you won't have to.
Your peace need never be disturbed.
These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
In Me....ye might have peace.
I am the secret place.
Abide in Me, and I in you. (John 15:4)
If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you,
ye shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:7)
These things have I spoken unto you,
that My joy might remain in you,
and that your joy might be full. (John 15:11)
The thief lives on the outside...of the secret place.
The thief comes only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:
I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
The secret to abundant life lies within the secret place.
He can't touch you here.
Far-removed from the beaten path.
Here, there is no man who is able to pluck you out of My Father's hand. (John 10:29)
As long as you dwell here, you will remain under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. (I John 5:18)
To stay within the parameters of My shadow, you must stay very close...to Me.
Put Me first. (Matthew 6:33)
Come to Me often. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Pray unceasingly. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
Live a prayer-saturated life. (Luke 18:1)
I will go with you everywhere you go.
The secret place is portable, because I am omnipresent.
While you minister, as you serve, during your every chore,
you need not leave the secret place.
For I am with you...always....everywhere.
I will live and dwell within you, as you live and dwell within the confines of My perfect will. (2 Cor. 6:16)
We will walk as one.
Each time you change positions,
every time you don a new hat and enter the realm of fresh responsibility,
I will be with you.
I will never leave you, never forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
This, My child, is living life abundantly.
This is dwelling within the secret place....
on a permanent basis.
Every day of life."
The secret place.
The place after which we continually seek.
We try to fill the void...that deep-seated desire buried in all of us.
We make attempts to fill it up with so many things....
all of them fall so short....
leaving us empty...and sad....and lonely....
still longing for rest.
There is only one place to go if you want real peace.
It will take some effort to get there.
You will have to lay everything else aside,
seek the gate that waits for you at the side of the road,
enter it, (Matthew 7:13)
and walk the beaten path.
My words call out to you....
from inside the secret place....
that it is so worth the trek.
If you are truly sick of the cheap imitations,
and empty, dry wells,
why not come with me?
Into the secret place.
Where sins are all forgiven,
slates are wiped clean,
broken hearts are bound and nurtured by the gentlest, nail-scarred hands,
destroyed lives are made new,
tangled webs of sinful despair are unraveled,
true happiness is a gift that is perpetually and bountifully bestowed,
and the shadow of the Almighty continually abides.
He already took the first step....when He walked up Calvary's hill.
The next step is up to you.
About the Author: I am Cheryl, grateful wife to Kevin, the sweetest man I've ever known, and blessed Mama to Zachary, for whom we waited 12 1/2 years! Jesus is the joy of my heart, the God of my soul. Walking through life with Him and having Kevin and Zach by my side are the sweetest, most precious blessings. I write Homespun Devotions at www.cherylsmithministries.blogspot.com.