What would you think if you saw these advertisements tucked into your Bible the next time you opened it?
Available immediately: Secret Place with God with a 24/7 view of His beauty.
Fine Dining: 1st class table and gourmet meals direct from heaven. Immediate seating open.
Penthouse for Occupancy: Solid rock foundation, 360′ water vistas.
Sounds great, right?
They are available… and Psalms 27 tells us where.
In this Psalm, David expresses a longing that many of us feel: To lead a “One Thing” life. To dwell in the house of the Lord all of our days. To behold God’s beauty and inquire in His temple. To let God set us on a high on a rock, where we can’t be moved. But take note of where this prime real estate is located: “In the time of trouble” (verse 5).
For years, I kept missing that part.
What I’m discovering on this journey is that the access to the Secret Place opens widest when life is at its worst.“In the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion. In the secret place of His dwelling He shall hide me…He will set me high upon a rock… above my enemies all around me.”
It’s like the classic opening line of Dickens Tale of Two Cities; “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” In the worst of times, God is at His best.
When I am at my most stupid, He is at His most brilliant… in a way that makes me feel brilliant too.
When I am lost, God finds me and hugs me; without lectures on why I shouldn’t have wandered off in the first place. His love at that moment makes me want to follow Him and we can go further and faster than before.
When warfare rages around me, He is at peace, usually talking about something completely unrelated to my circumstances. He elevates me from my ground level perspective with His smile and His majesty. As I continue to behold Him during these times, I find I am becoming more like Him in my responses.
Graham has shared who God has been to him in his “times of trouble.” (Why Wounded & Betrayed Believers are Useful to God and Defining Your Personal Legacy probably have the most stories.) These contain amazing God encounters and I’ve been encouraged by them often. He’s given us powerful tools for overcoming in Perfecting the Art of Bouncing Back, Encouraging Yourself in God and the Way of the Warrior Series books.
Yet, when all is said and done, it is my own story with God that is turning the worst of times into the place where the best things happen.
Someone else’s testimony IS a powerful and scriptural weapon, but only if I process it into my own life. Another person’s experience with God can bring insight, comfort and initial breakthrough, but it will be my encounter with Him in the “time of trouble” that will establish that truth in my life.
I believe it’s one of the primary reasons Graham does what he does; so that no matter what is happening, WE get to have a brilliant life with God too, not just listen to his. Either the abundant life that Jesus described is true, or it’s not. It can’t just be true for Graham Cooke. And if it’s available as promised (And it is — John 10:10) then I want it… and I’m meeting a lot of other folks who do too and are embracing a life of process to become the ones telling their own story – not reciting someone else’s.
I love sharing this journey my companions. I will be forever grateful for Graham as a brilliant teacher and friend, but I am ever aware that my Chief Teacher, Helper and Comforter is the Lord. When He invites me to the feast in the presence of my enemies, I want my first response to be one of expectancy. “Who are You about to be for me now that You couldn’t be at any other time?”
Graham gave us that brilliant question, but he can’t answer it for us. In the time of trouble, the answer can only come from the One who turns our worst into His best. And He is looking forward to having that conversation.