Isaiah 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
Many times, people associate the concept of darkness with foreboding, trouble, storms, etc. While this association isn’t wrong, it’s not the only association God gives to it. Indeed we find in Scripture, a positive concept of the secret place:
In describing God, the Psalmist says: Psalms 18:11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
Psalms 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalms 27:5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Depending on your favourite translation of Scripture, there are many verses that talk about entering into God’s rest, most notably in the book of Hebrews.
Isaiah 30:15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
Isaiah 32:17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
1 Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Mark 6:31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
Hebrews 3:9-19 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Hebrews 4:3-11 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
In the secret, in the quiet place. . . in the stillness YOU are there. . . These lyrics come to mind and I am reminded of a modern rendition of the song these lyrics came from:
When I think of darkness, I think of all these things: rest, peace, stillness, quietness. God says He will meet me in that place and commune with me there. God says it is when I quiet myself that I will hear His still small voice.
So the question begs to be asked, if darkness is so peaceful and generally so quiet to rest and sleep in, why when life grows dark, do we not also find that place of hidden rest and stillness? When the storms of life roll in and the days grow dark, we act like frightened children instead of like seasoned adults who weather the waves with skill and ease. A cool-headed skipper brings the ship home every time, but the skipper that freaks out often sinks his boat. We act like children who have not yet developed their sea-legs and who get tossed from one end of the boat to the other when the rough seas hit.
I’m thinking it’s time for us as mature Christians in the faith, to develop our “sea-legs”. We need to navigate the storms of live with cool-headed resolve, skillfully navigating the waves and shoals and allowing the Greatest Skipper of them all to take the helm, guiding the rudder of our lives through to safe harbour. When we develop our sea-legs, we can move about just as well as if we were on land and the waves of life cease to cause us so much trouble. The swaying of the boat can even put us to sleep to the point where someone invented water-beds so they could bring home a similar sensation. When the storms of life have us naturally heading into our secret place, allowing the waves to lull us into that peaceful place in God’s arms, their fright and their fear is removed, along with the power the enemy hoped to gain from them over our lives. If our anchor is thrown down into the depths of God’s love, we can rest, fully assured that no matter how strong the squall gets outside, our lives are held firm in His grasp.
These thoughts come to me today as I listen to tires on wet roads as the rain has fallen all day long. In fact, it was raining when I was awakened to drive my daughter to work this morning! Some people look out at the rain and curse and complain. They fail to find peace and gratitude that the rain falling from the sky is bringing nourishment to the crops whose harvest they buy at the grocery store downtown. They fail to acknowledge the contribution to the snowpack further up in the hills that will keep the aquifers such as rivers, creeks and lakes full for drinking, fish, and irrigation.
Rather than freaking out at the darkness, or selfishly complaining about the rain, why not take these moments to enter deeper into God’s rest? Why not turn these frightful and frustrating moments and turn them around into moments of quietness and peace? True the concept is easier said than done, and I’ve had my share of life storms for sure! But as the eagle spreads its wings and uses the gale-force winds to fill its wings and soar above the storm in the peaceful and quiet air above, so God calls us into that quiet place too. For some of us, that quiet place is in the eye of the storm as we learn to test our wings on the smaller squalls of life. But for others of us, we’ve been through enough by now that we should learn to spread our wings when the winds come, and soar instead. It’s amazing how that bird’s-eye view of what’s going on below us can suddenly seem so small when we are soaring in God’s amazing presence!Are you the skillful navigator? Are you the bird having found the cleft of the Rock? Are you the eagle in flight? Are you the one communing with God on your bed while darkness surrounds you? Or are you the frightened young child still, thinking you are all alone and facing the darkness all by yourself?
God is there, as the many verses above have shared, God is there with you to comfort you, guide you, speak to you, and just “be” with you. When I am resting on my bed, I am just there, sure my mind may want to run all over creation, but sleep doesn’t come until I have quieted myself and reached that place of true rest. So it is in our relationship with God. We can enter into that secret place, but until we quiet our thoughts and learn to just “be” in His presence, we won’t experience His rest and peace.
For a deeper discussion of trust, rest and peace, you’ll find it in my series, “Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey”. Volumes Two, Four and Five in particular.
I like black, do you like black?