Reflections on A Secret Place
By Steve Brubaker
At the January 11th CBMC* meeting, Gene Kirby led a study on our Secret Place. “But when you pray, 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 (ESV) Gene referenced Caron Cline’s January BRCN article, wherein she encourages readers to set “Getting to a Secret Place” as a worthwhile New Year’s resolution. This is a Bible study and article that quickened my spirit and challenged me.
Since then, I have been reflecting daily on those Words from God and recalling my “Secret Place” experiences down through my 73 years. How have they impacted my life? How have I followed through? Where did I succeed? Or more painfully, where did I fail?
What have been the results of success or failure (there are positives to both)? Beyond asking forgiveness for my failures, can I still follow up or -through them? What has God taught me – from either outcome? Thanks, Brother Gene, for kicking off these moments. And, “Thank you, Caron,” for reminding us of the importance of spending time in our Secret Place.
What I most appreciated about Gene’s teaching is what I call his “List of Secret Place Attributes.” He suggested nine of them. Here are some of my reflections on each:
- Discipline – Without a question, a key component of a Secret Place experience. I know when my obedience and discipline are strong, SPs happen. And when I recall periods where there were few or none, I can usually pinpoint a lack of discipline. I treasure my early morning quiet times, but also acknowledge the impending day often detracts from my focus. I have observed most of my SPs occurred when I disciplined myself to purposefully set aside a block of time to be alone with Him.
- Darkness – When Gene initially listed this attribute, I’ll admit I found it difficult to associate “darkness” with our God. While I know He creates and allows both, and there are lessons to be learned in Light and Darkness, how do I associate a Secret Place with darkness? Gene suggested, “Dark places, which we all have, can be places of fear, confusion, uncertainty, and seemingly loneliness. Yet, ironically and truthfully, we are always His, always in the light and ‘just under the shadow of His wings.’” “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.” – Psalm 91:4-6 (ESV)
As I ponder this further, some of my “darkest” times are when I have experienced a Secret Place. Our 25 years of prayer until God delivered our son from addiction provided several SP experiences. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24(ESV)
- Reverence – Without a doubt! In a true SP experience, there is an undeniable reverence – “revering God Almighty.” Unfortunately, today’s “church” rarely, if ever, allows, provides, or encourages a sense of reverence. Far too often, the focus is on the music, the production, the technology, and a subtle acknowledgment of peoples’ uncomfortableness with reverence. My point is simply, “it’s uncomfortable because we fail to teach and show people how to experience the blessing and benefit of “being reverent” in God’s presence.”
- Awe – Hands down, many of my SP experiences have occurred in the beauty of God’s creation! He made this for me! Wow! Having grown up in the Colorado Rockies you needed only to open your eyes – but I’ve also been at the ocean, even sitting on the deck in my backyard. God’s gift of creation is everywhere – a playground of children, an elderly couple walking hand-in-hand, a baby’s simple smile.
In my past, I was a solo backpacker – spending time in the mountains and canyons surrounded by God’s Masterpiece. Never is there a doubt when I’m totally alone in these settings that I can be filled to overflowing with “Awe.” “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof!” Psalm 24:1
- Intimacy – Yes, no one knows us like God. There are no secrets – good or evil – He does not know – see Psalm 139:1-16. Becoming comfortable in that knowledge is sometimes difficult, but understanding He knows everything about me is a freeing realization. Caron’s article reminded us that “Intimacy is God’s desire for every child,” and in our SP we come with vulnerabilities that allow us to uncover secret sins and irrational fears, and to deepen our relationship with God. I can be myself in my SP – no airs necessary!
- Consecration – Secret Places are definitely places of consecration – sacred places and times. When we experience a true SP, it always becomes a consecrated moment. SPs in my living room to moments in the mountains have always been “sacred.”
- Revelation – In a word, the real benefit and blessing of SPs. From my Kansas farmhouse living room to a youth ministry in Florida – from my singleness to marriage. These were all moments of revelation. God has plans for us…they are frequently revealed in our Secret Place. It’s important to go there often to learn His plan for our lives.
- Silence – Ah, often this is the attribute many people find most difficult and sometimes scary. We live in a world that bombards us with sound 24×7…and when we find ourselves surrounded by silence we can immediately become ill-at-ease. In today’s technology-filled environment, it is far too easy to fill the silence with noise. “My music calms me… helps me concentrate… drowns out the background… I just need the TV on to give me company…” I’ve heard so many “reasons” to avoid silence and sometimes used the excuses myself.
Still, I’m someone who can travel miles in the lonely silence of an automobile. Some of that is due to my years as an OTR truck driver – miles alone with the Lord are always a blessing. The point is I often seek silence and I testify to the power of silence as a powerful prelude to, and perpetuation of, SP experiences. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
- Glory <just a glimpse> – Herein lies what I consider the most memorable gift of Secret Place experiences. Like Moses, who wanted to see God’s Glory, Exodus 33:18, while we may not seek it, we too can be blessed by catching a glimpse of His Glory in our SP. Our “cleft-in-the-rock” experience may take place in our Secret Place – or perhaps as we are obedient to the plan He reveals in our SP. It’s available to us all – and often manifested in the “Silence” of a “Secret Place.”
In 2011, I was blessed to hear Mama Maggie Gobran, founder of Egypt’s Stephen’s Children, speak. She said, “The Silence is the Secret.” Her life, while intimidating, is an awesome example of how to regularly have Secret Place experiences. Mama Maggie rarely chooses to participate in social evenings, a discipline that allows her to get a good night’s sleep so she can arise at 3:00 a.m. every day to spend several hours alone with her Heavenly Father. Yet, even as the leader of a huge ministry, she purposefully sets aside one week every two months to spend at a monastery in total Silence.
My prayer is we all grow by experiencing our Secret Places.
* Morganton CBMC (Christian Business Men’s and Women’s Connection) meets every Tuesday,
Noon -1 p.m., Morganton Community House, for Lunch, Bible study, and Fellowship. Join us.
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