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One-a-Day...for the Heart: In a Cottage In the Woods

We played in it for hours and never tired of the “cottage” in the woods we made in a small grove of pine trees near our home. There were bedrooms nestled under the trees, an entryway, a living room, an eating area, and everything we needed to stay hidden from the fierce neighborhood predators (8-12-year-old boys) who did not appreciate our neatly swept, tidy home among the trees.

Usually, my sisters, our girlfriend, and I played there together, taking dolls or lunches with us, but part of the fun was sitting in the solitude of our living room under the pines. No one could see us through the thick, dark pine branches, but we could see every movement of activity in the surrounding yards and fields. For some reason, when the wind blew and the pines whistled, it felt incredibly safe there. I cannot recall even one time when our peace was disturbed.

Psalm 31:20 (NKJV) reads You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. “Pavilion” means booth, cottage, covert, tabernacle, or tent—even a hut or lair. The idea of safety and security in the pavilion is emphasized. A lair is a refuge or place for hiding.

The pavilion mentioned in Psalm 31:20 is a spiritual pavilion, a place of God’s favor and protection. But how many times the Almighty protected—even hid—His beloved children from enemies, as He tucked them into the most unusual settings! For instance, the prophet Jeremiah and the scribe Baruch were to be seized by order of the king, but the Lord hid them from their captors (Jeremiah 36:26). Elijah experienced firsthand the Lord’s protection as God spoke to him about hiding…The word of the Lord came to him [Elijah] ‘Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith’ (1 Kings 17:2). Other instances of God hiding people include:

  • Joseph, who the Lord hid in prison before his being lifted to a place of royalty in the palace

  • David, who God hid in the mountains as Saul was chasing him before he became king

  • Moses, who as a baby was hidden in the bulrushes to escape death, was later led by God into a desert where men could not find him until it was time for him to lead God’s people to freedom.

In another scripture, the secret place of protection is mentioned again: He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1 NKJV). Here we read about the secret place of God’s presence, where we are kept safe from the plots of men and the “strife of tongues,” mentioned in Psalm 31.

Have you ever been the victim of the plots of men? As children, many of us have been bullied or hurt in a deceitful plan to humiliate or defeat us. On a much larger scale, one need only watch the news or read the headlines to witness the horrendous evil plots of men that bring death and destruction. Nothing—absolutely nothing—can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39). If we are brought to the ultimate test of sacrificing our lives as Christ did, grace covers us and keeps us in our Father’s secret pavilion.

Consider the Apostle Stephen. When he was stoned to death, the scripture gives this account of the incident: But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep [died] (Acts 7:54-60 NKJV). Clearly, Stephen was in the pavilion. He'd found the safety of God's "cottage" as stones were hurled toward him and death came over him.

Even when the wind blew, our little cottage in the pine grove was a safe, secure hiding place. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7 NKJV). When we cling to the Lord, no matter how strong the winds of turmoil and destruction blow, He hides us in His holiness.

It is impossible to harm God; no one can hurt or kill Him. As His holiness and grace extend over and around us, He brings us into His cottage--His pavilion and place of safety and protection from the enemy’s evil that would seek to destroy our souls. It cannot. In life or death, He provides a safe place for us always.

© 2023, Chris Werre

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