There is a place most Christians have never been.
It is a place of which they have never heard, of which they have no concept, for which they have no desire. If it could be described, they would think it impractical, too time consuming, too difficult to attain, not worth the effort to achieve. And that would be because they’ve never been there. We might call it 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
Those few who have entered into this Holy of Holies of spiritual intimacy with the Lover of their soul would say it is worth any effort, any price to attain. They would not understand how any child of God could possibly think a pearl of such value as communion with the Lord could be considered too time consuming to obtain. These friends of Jesus would simply stare with genuine bewilderment when told how impractical it is to enjoy God by glorifying Him and to glorify Him by enjoying Him. Their only response? “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.”
In this shallow age, those who know experimental religion, that is, experiential, spiritual Christianity, are often written off as mystics. The possibility is never considered that there are some believers who take seriously the declaration that they have been raised up and seated together in the heavenlies in Jesus. They accept as spiritual and doctrinal reality that they are raised with Christ; therefore, they long for and seek after those things which are above. They set their minds, their affections above; they’ve left behind and lost interest in material pursuits. They have died to it all and their life is hidden with Christ in God, not just as a theological statement, but as a true and vital experience. As Rutherford said, “Since He looked upon me, my heart is not my own, He hath run away to Heaven with it.”
Therefore, it is quite natural for them to lay their heads on the heart of Jesus, lost in His love, in the Secret Place. Listen to Mr. Spurgeon:
There are times with me—I dare say there may be with some of you—when we do something more than contemplate—when we arise by meditation above thought itself, and when our soul, after having touched the Pisgah of contemplation by the way, flies positively into the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. There are seasons when the spirit not only stands and flaps his wings o’er the gulf, but positively crosses the Jordan and dwells with Christ, holds fellowship with angels, and talks with spirits—gets up there with Jesus, clasps Him in his arms, and cries, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His; I will hold Him, and will not let Him go.” I know what it is at times to lay my beating head on the bosom of Christ with something more than faith—actually and positively to get hold of Him; not only to take Him by faith, but actually and positively to feed on Him; to feel a vital union with Him, to grasp His arm, and feel His very pulse beating. You say, “Tell it not to unbelievers; they will laugh!” Laugh you may; but when we are there we care not for your laughter, if you should laugh as loud as devils; for one moment’s fellowship with Jesus would recompense us for it all. Picture not fairy lands; this is Heaven, this is bliss. “He hath revealed it unto us by His Spirit.”
Consider John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, at least that’s how he identified himself in the Gospel he penned. He’s the one who leaned on Jesus’ bosom at the Last Supper. But did Jesus not love all the disciples? He said, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” He loved them to the end, all of them, not just John. But John felt especially loved. Maybe his attitude was, “Jesus loves you, but I’m His favorite!” But is that so bad? Removing the childishness from it and retaining the childlikeness; that is the humble heart of one who dwells in the Secret Place.
Jesus, Lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
No Christian who has ever accepted the invitation of Jesus has ever regretted it, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” But ‘abide’ is not occasionally dropping by for coffee. It is to settle down and feel perfectly at home. The enemy of the soul will do all he can to keep that from happening. To abide has a peaceful sound to it, but it is a war to get there and a discipline to maintain that posture. But think, anything Satan fights so viciously must be of great import.
Paul considered the loss of anything and everything of perceived value in this life as worthless, quickly given up without a second thought for the super eminence of the deep, personal, intimate, experiential knowledge of Jesus, knowledge of such surpassing value that if one tried to buy it, it would be priceless.
Those who abide in the Secret Place seldom, if ever, speak of it. In fact, they are generally quieter than most. One does not come from the heart of Jesus with a boisterous demeanor and a quiver full of jokes. This one changes the atmosphere of a room, or soon leaves. He is sensitive to the Holy Spirit who is grieved at any conversation among Christians that could not easily transition to prayer, or worse, when an unholy conversation can easily turn to prayer without a twinge of guilt because it’s time for someone “to say a quick prayer.”
Those who abide do not try to come across as more spiritual or more holy than others; they are sincerely grieved of heart by the things that grieve the Spirit.
Don’t think him morose. He of all men knows Biblical joy. He just may not always be bubbly. Again, Charles Spurgeon.
People really full of joy do not usually talk much. A person that is carrying a glass that is full to the brim, does not go dancing along like one who has nothing to carry. He is very quiet and steady, for he does not want to spill the contents of the glass. So, the man who has the joy of the Lord filling his soul is often quiet; he cannot say much about it. I have even known that joy to get so full that we have scarcely known whether we have been in the body or out of the body. Pain, sickness, depression of spirit—all seem to have been taken right away; and the man has had so clear a view of Christ, and his mind has been so abstracted from everything else, that, afterwards, it has almost seemed like a dream to him to have felt the love of God in its almighty power, lifting him above all surrounding circumstances.
And do not think for a moment that this one believes he is nearing the arrival gate of sinlessness. He would cringe at the thought. He is painfully aware of his sinfulness, and his sins loom larger in his own eyes under the near glow of the holiness of Jesus, sins of the heart that those in the shadows at a safer distance from the Glory might overlook.
There are many missing elements in current American Christianity. Two disciplines essential for finding and remaining in the Secret Place of spiritual intimacy with our Lord Jesus are TIME and SILENCE. These may be the two most expensive commodities to purchase, at least to find. There’s not a spare minute in your day, much less any significant non-interruptible time. And where can you go in this world to find silence? Isn’t that extinct? Isn’t this being unrealistic in this age? That depends on how badly you want it, how much you want Him.
How thirsty does the deer have to be to pant for the water brooks? When you can say, “That’s how my soul thirsts for You, my Savior,” you will find the time it takes to discover and enter in and settle down and feel perfectly at home in the Secret Place. When you understand the cry of the bride of the Lamb, “When I found the One I love, I held Him and would not let Him go,” you will then want to read and study His word, pour out your heart to Him, and you will not forget to wait and listen to your Beloved as He speaks to you from His Word by His indwelling Spirit. His sheep hear His voice. Hearing requires listening. It’s difficult to listen if you’re always talking. Isn’t that what you tell your kids? Listen. His voice will never contradict the Scripture. That’s not mysticism; that’s Christianity.
How much time? How seriously do you want to know Him experientially, intimately, spiritually? To know the power of His resurrection involves the fellowship of His suffering.
How much silence? Christian meditation is not emptying the mind; it is filling the mind with Scripture and thinking on these things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praiseworthy. Spurgeon said he’d rather soak his soul in a few verses than rinse his hands in several chapters. Listen to the Author; the Holy Spirit knows what to do with His sword. He came to guide you into all truth and to glorify Christ. Look for Jesus on every page. Open the Book with reverence and anticipation, with your mind made up in advance to believe and obey.
Seek His heart. Abide in Him. Find the Secret Place. Settle down, feel at home, refuse to leave.
“We are never nearer Christ than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement at His unspeakable love.” —John Owen
Dan Grindstaff, evangelist