Let me tell you about my little world.
My husband, Albert and I used to joke about it, and refer to it as ‘my little world’, because it was a faraway place only I could enjoy. He couldn’t get there no matter how hard he tried, and I had a hard time getting out once I was there.
It was a safe, comfortable place—just the perfect little retreat to hide away from the harsh realities of life. In this delightful ideological world, everything was exactly the way things ought to be. My many friends were wonderful! I never failed in anything. I never blundered, never experienced rejection, and always said the right thing.
There was a little window in my retreat, through which I could safely view the people who passed my way. Carefully I examined each one to see if they would be suitable to fit into my sanctuary. Most failed. None had the slightest inkling they were being closely evaluated by me. All of them thought I was a pleasant, although quiet and reserved young lady.
I could go on and on about this little haven I had once lived in. I am truly amazed that one can do this to oneself. It baffles me…amazes me…leaves me shaking my head at myself. It has shaped my entire life and influenced every relationship. It has even impacted my gifts and abilities. This lovely little world of mine has been so utterly destructive in my life that I am filled with awe at what I’ve been delivered from. How could I have done that to myself? I can hardly believe it’s possible that someone can live their life out of a little world. That an entire personality can be hidden away in a safe little place of ideologies and dreams.
However, it wasn’t a bad place to be when I didn’t have Jesus. It truly had served as a protection for me. When I escaped there, I never needed to face criticism…no one knew anything about me to criticize! I never needed to face hurt or rejection of friends… there was no one. I never had to face failure…there was nothing to fail. Everything was very safe and non-threatening.
But it was a lonely way to live.
Then one day, I invited Jesus into my little world. He shone his exposing beams all around as I gave Him a tour through the rooms of my confines. It was in His Marvelous Light that I made a stunning discovery—one which would change forever the course of my life.
Why, this wonderful world was nothing more than a dismal dungeon and I was the sole prisoner!
Very gently, Jesus led me to His word, and told me that I needed to leave behind my little world, and step out into the dangers of reality. I had to reach out with His love, and form genuine relationships with the people around me.
Oh, dear! That meant I would have to live life on the outside! My day to day experiences would have to be interpreted in the real world. I was going to need to accept the imperfections of life, see circumstances in their real light, feel the pain, face the failure, and simply take things at face value.
As I think back to the way things used to be, I am convinced that my struggle with reality is a common spiritual ailment. My heart breaks for the countless people still left in the prisons of their own making. How many hurting people are there who remain trapped within themselves, unable to break free? My heart goes out to those captives; perhaps you know someone like that, or maybe you can even recognize yourself in my story. I don’t know what your particular situation might be, but my heart longs to reach out and direct you to the wonderful freedom I have found in Jesus Christ.
Jesus says, “I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)
You will not find that abundant life inside yourself. The very reason why Jesus came is that you and I would find joy and meaning outside of ourselves, in Jesus Christ, the great Lover of our Souls.
Life is painful, there is no doubt about that. We all need a safe place to flee to. We were not created with the ability to handle our own sins, or the sins of others. Sin crushes everything in its path and leaves us devastated. It’s no wonder there is so much mental and emotional turmoil everywhere we look.
How I thank God for His marvelous provision for us! He’s made us a tremendously gracious offer in answer to our soul’s need for protection from the pain of life.
Take a look with me at the words of Psalm 91:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust. Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.” Psalm 91: 1-4 (NKJV)
When I began to realize that I needed to come out of my safe place, I can recall feelings of absolute terror. Living life on the outside would mean I would be exposed to the brutal elements. I felt as though I would surely whither at the scorching heat of criticism. How would I handle the storms of failure? I knew for sure I would have to face the dreary desert of loneliness. Along with that loneliness would surely come rejection—the ultimate desert storm.
Dear struggling friend, God knows about our need for refuge, and He has offered Himself as that quiet place of peace amidst the storms of life. It is unnecessary and even dangerous to try to create a ‘safe’ place within ourselves. We must make Him our hiding place.
Living in the Secret Place of the Most High
What does it mean to live in the secret place of the Most High? It means we must have a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. It means that we hunger and thirst after Him, and desire to get to know Him better. It means we will open up our little world to Him, and disclose every secret thought, every empty longing, every unfilled dream. We must let Him inside…show Him around… invite Him in.
Are you or someone you love afraid of reality, and unable to deal with the challenges of life? If I could, I would take your hand and pull you to Jesus. Please go, and tell Him about your wild fears, and share with Him your need for shelter. Read His word, and let Him speak to you through His Holy Spirit. Learn about His ways, and the way that He wants you to live. Train your spiritual ears to listen to what He says.
When you abide in Christ, and seek His presence, He will lead you to a new ‘secret place’ in the very heart of the Almighty God. It’s a secret, because it is only those who step out in faith who will discover this holy sanctuary.
As you grow to trust Him more, you will learn to take those first baby steps into the real world, knowing that “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27
I can just hear His voice saying, “it’s okay…I’m holding onto you.”
Abiding Under the Shadow of the Almighty
Now let’s look at what it means to live under the shadow of the Almighty. I like to picture a great eagle spreading out its massive wings to provide shade and shelter for its young. When we hide under the wings of the Almighty, we could never be more safe and secure. The storms going on outside can never touch or cause us harm. Oh sure, we hear the winds rage, and the rain pound. Sometimes we feel the heat, but it doesn’t matter. You and I are eternally safe if we have forsaken our little world, and made the Lord our secret place. The great love of God spreads His canopy over me, and nothing, nothing can separate us from His love.
I’ve discovered four specific areas in life where I have learned to sit quietly perched beneath the almighty wings and watch undisturbed as these storms rage about me.
1. Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty means when I fail, my feathers will remain unruffled. I can get up and try again. Others may condemn me; friends might dismiss me; I could be ridiculed or scorned, but the shelter of God’s love surrounds me the whole time. My status with my Savior has not changed. He holds me up when I feel the shame, and encourages me to keep going. He even uses my failure and turns it to my profit. There are things that He wanted me to learn from that failure, and His desire through it all was to shape and mold me to become more like Him. He wanted to purge away the dross. If my Lord meant it for my profit, then I can accept it from His loving hand
2. Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty means if loved ones reject me, I can get beyond that. To be unaccepted by others does not change my standing with God. I must love people, but I do not need people. In the Lord Jesus Christ, I have everything I need. My worth is entirely wrapped up in who He is and what He has done. He purchased me for the price of His blood, and the rejection of another can not change the fact that I am His, and He loves me with an everlasting love. In fact, He turns even this to my profit. He uses rejection to help me loose my hold on people, and to lean entirely on Him.
3. Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty means I am free to love others regardless of what they think or how they respond. There is such a great freedom in the love of God! We are free to show kindness, and to reach out in any way we can without looking for a response. We may give without expecting a thing in return because the shelter of God’s love keeps us from running dry. His love fills us again and again. When we dwell in that secret place, we are not looking for human love to satisfy—God’s love has already done that. All we need to do is give it away.
4. Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty means when circumstances are painful, we can endure. Living beneath the protection of the Almighty’s wings does not mean that trials will never befall us. In fact, God guarantees us that we will experience trials, and that He intends them to be used to make us Holy. Just read this passage in James:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1: 2-4 (NKJV)
God is sovereign—He has already charted my course for me. What a comfort! I can rest quietly beneath His wings, knowing that this circumstance did not come as a surprise to Him, and He knows what He is going to do with it. He has even numbered the days of my life. From the moment of conception to the moment of death, my life has been orchestrated by Him. I will not expire before I have finished my calling.
Well, the Lord is calling you and I to step out in faith, and let others see who we really are. It’s time for us to stop hiding, and to be genuine in all of our relationships.
What does that look like? Well… maybe that I have to let people see what I’m really like and laugh! Maybe I have to speak my convictions, and let everyone trample all over them. I think perhaps I might have to do something really silly, and let everyone roll their eyes at me. And by God’s grace, I have to let all the criticism and gossip and trampling be okay! The Lord wants me to allow myself to be laughed at. He tells me that when He is with me I can endure all that.
Isn’t that what He did, when He came from His perfect world to ours? He became one of us. He subjected Himself to mockery and scorn. He spoke our language… He took on our emotions. He let the whole world see His divinity, and He was rejected because of it.
So shouldn’t I be able to come out of the little ‘heaven’ that I created for myself, and let others see that I too, am simply a weak human, full of struggles?
© 2006, Lisa pennings
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