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Psalm 91:1 The secret place

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

I’ll bet I’m not the only one who used to search out secret hiding places as a kid. There was a group of lilac bushes when I was growing up between my back yard and the adjoining one, and I would get up at the crack of dawn, while the Indian test pattern was the only thing on TV, fix a bowl of Sugar Smacks, Sugar Pops, Cocoa Puffs, or Alpha-Bits, and sneak out the back door to that lilac hiding place to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the neighborhood waking up. In fact, I can still feel the same excitement in my stomach that I used to experience as I sneaked out the door.

I had a different hiding place on the edge of my street, between the developed and undeveloped parts when I was twelve or thirteen. I was so concerned about kids from distant reaches of the subdivision finding and taking over my “fort” that I dug a foot and a half deep hole and covered it with thin sticks and weeds so I could sabotage intruders.

Later, when I was a counselor at Ranger, a primitive camp program at Camp Lakewood during the 70’s, we would play Capture the Flag after dark in the rocky glens and fields surrounded by woods. Oh, how I loved finding the right spy post, jumping out at unsuspecting enemy campers or counselors to put them in Capture the Flag prison!

And as a freshman and sophomore in college, right before I gave my heart to Christ, I would return to my dorm after a night of drinking and partying and sit on the stairwell landing of the 7th floor of my dorm to talk to God about my night, hidden away from everyone but my Creator.

I shared all this to give context to my delight over having a secret place. Every time I read or pray this first verse in Psalm 91, He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, I am brought back to one or another of my coveted secret places.

Think about your best hiding places as a kid or teen when you read this verse, because you now have an open invitation not only to visit, but to live in a very cool secret place—the secret place of the Most High! The Living God has invited YOU to move on in, baggage and all. The accoutrements are beyond your expectations, the very atmosphere is alive with wonder, and the longer you stay, the more in awe you will be. Right there, in His secret place, you can feel safe enough to start removing some of that heavy old baggage you brought in with you. You won’t need it there, anyway.

How do you find this hiding place? A long ago radio preacher I once heard explained it like this: Dwelling in the secret place of the Most High is simply this—prioritizing intimacy with God. Hey! I did that to an extent before I ever gave my heart to Jesus. I talked to Him about the parties I had just returned from, how everyone was acting, even how much fun it was. I know that doesn’t sound very “holy”, but I was making a point to acknowledge Him. The fact that you don’t yet know Jesus is no reason to avoid Him. He actually enjoys it…but like I discovered, if you hang around the creek bank long enough, you’ll eventually fall in. (No better Slip ‘n’ Slide anywhere!)

The hiding places of my youth were stationary, and when I sneaked in there, I stayed put in one spot. This secret place, however, is mobile. As you prioritize your relationship with the Lord, you are dwelling on Him in your mind and heart; and you are actually dwelling in Him as well. Wherever you go, He’s there with you.

The book of James tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you,” (chapter 4, verse 8). This is an incredible arrangement, because the next statement in Psalm 91:1 paints a vivid picture of just this very occurrence. It says:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

If you take the initiative to prioritize your relationship and time with God, you are drawing near to Him. You are dwelling in the secret place of the Most High.

He, in turn—just as He did with me as a confused teen—will draw near to you. In fact, He will hover so closely that you will be under His direct shadow.

Have you ever seen a little fledgling bird just beginning to try out its wings? Mama bird is close, watchful, ready to intervene if necessary.  But you? YOU are under the direct shadow of the Almighty. That fledgling can flap and flop several feet away from Mama; but you who prioritize intimacy with God are within arm’s reach—arm’s reach of the Almighty. This is how miraculous interventions happen.

One more thought: Remember back in the early days of the apostles after Jesus returned to Heaven? Acts 5 tells the story:

At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people…And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them,” (verses 12, 14-15)

These Jewish believers had witnessed the power of God moving through Peter; and I’ll bet they knew the 91st Psalm as well. They put two and two together, and probably figured that since God was moving through Peter, then Peter was under His shadow. Therefore, what better place for sick people to be than under the shadow of the man who was obviously under the shadow of the Almighty! And if you have any infirmity in your body, what better place for you to be than under the shadow of the Almighty?

As you prioritize your intimacy with God, moving about under His shadow, don’t be surprised if interesting things, new perspectives, special blessings, and remarkable “turnarounds” happen. Remember, however, this is not a magic spell or a genie in a bottle you’ve stumbled upon, but a lifelong relationship and adventure with the Almighty God Himself.

See you under His shadow!


© 2020, Dorothy Frick