By Alycia Cruse
Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings...Psalms 17:8
I got my love for animals from my grandmother. No matter where she lived, she always had a little "farm" for as long as I can remember. The most common animals she had were chickens - easy to care for and the eggs are delicious! I distinctly remember one winter, one of her hens decided to brood on an egg. Yes... One egg hatched and the tiniest little chick I had ever seen would run around after his mother on those cold January days in upstate South Carolina.
The nights were especially cold this winter so my grandmother got up one morning and went to check if that little chick was still alive. She looked and looked in the pen, all around the mother, and there was no little chick. Such a shame, but death happens in farm life.
She was about to walk away when she heard a faint sound of peeping.
Peep! Peep! Peep!
So, she looked again. When she got close to the mother hen, the peeping got louder - maybe she missed him the first time, and he was underneath his mother. She picked up the mother hen - still no baby chick. The peeping was coming from inside the mother hen!
She pulled up the wing of the mother and the peeping got even louder.. but it wasn't until she extended the wing all the way out and reached up into the hollow of the mother bird, close to her beating heart, did she find that defenseless baby chick. He was safe and warm from the roaring wind and any lurking predator. He trusted his mother because he could hear her heart.
I spent the majority of my "becoming who you are" years in a foreign country. From age ten until eighteen, I lived among people who had never heard the Gospel message. My learning to lead people to Christ and disciple them happened in a different language than my mother tongue, in a different culture than my native land. I enjoyed so much of what my life consisted of - the savory food, the exotic animals, the welcoming people, and the light in someone's eyes the first time they understood the truth.
There were also dark days. The days of discouragement were just as real as the days of enjoyment.
Since I arrived in Pabellón de Arteaga, Aguascalientes, Mexico at ten years old, I was old enough to be very aware of the fact that my parents had left behind the only life I had known - and things "normal" kids do. I felt so alone some days. Yes, even with all the noise of six siblings, it got lonely.
I remember going to my mother, and she told me that the Lord had a special plan for my life. He had me experiencing the life I was to be able to use it for His glory. (I can definitely see that now!) She then pulled out her Bible and gave me a wonderful promise to hold on to. “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” (Psalm 27:5). That word pavilion is exactly where He had me. The name of my town, Pabellón translates to "pavilion." He had me hidden close to His heart.
Fear is loud. Loneliness is loud. Anger is loud. Bitterness is loud. Sorrow is loud. Regret is loud. Doubt is loud.
God's love is louder.
He speaks to us over pages and pages of His promises and mighty works. God sees me and has placed me in the hollow of His wing. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalms 91:1). God wants to mold me into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. I have to trust Him.
I have to rest in Him. I have to dwell in the secret place.
Not long after the conversation with my mom, we heard this song by Ron Hamilton.
I found a secret place of comfort and release
A special place of healing, a quiet place of peace
And everyone who dwells there finds rests beneath God's wings
In the shade of His pavilion, new strength He always brings.
I find hope, I find grace
Far away from the worlds embrace.
He gives me rest, He keeps me safe
I find His strength, I seek His face
In the secret place.
With every trial He brings, my Lord with make a way
To strengthen and protect me, to help me face each day.
He leads me through the valley to draw me closer still
Knowing even in the shadows, I find His perfect will.
I have wept so many times remembering the secret place God put me in. Yet in the darkness of the hollow, close to His heart I have found so much comfort in my sorrow, release from my fears, and hope for my future.
I am thankful that now with joy, I am running to hide - in the secret place.