These secrets can be immaculate treasures if we allow them to be. Now this truth contradicts every other thing that I have taught my children regarding secrets.
From early on, Jody and I taught our kids that secrets are not to be kept from us as parents. We taught them never to believe any adult who encourage them to enter into or keep secrets. We’ve kept our promise to them that we would not hold secrets from them, but instead share our lives with them in age appropriate ways. The only good secrets are the ones we hold for surprise parties and birthday gifts.
The truth that there are secrets that can be kept between you and God counters a different essential truth regarding emotional recovery and health. Within the recovery community, my brothers and sisters share a vital admonition – your secrets will kill you. It’s absolutely true. The secrets we keep about the pain and shame and confusion that we all fear are the very things that keep us isolated from each other and unable to find healing and relief.
The freedom that comes from the fact that there can be secrets between you and God even contradicts the wonderful early teaching that I received regarding prayer. As a young man entering into this exciting new world of faith and following Christ, I received this advice from a wizened old pastor. “A good Christian should always be ready to pray out loud and to give his testimony.” Nothing was to be kept secret, but was instead to be shared with anyone and everyone who was willing to listen. (BTW, this advice about prayer and sharing your story still stands as some of the best that I have ever received, and I commend it to you as well.)
While in my Lenten reading today from Matthew 6, I notice something that surprised me – two little words “in secret.”
About giving in secret (Matthew 6:3 & 4) About praying in secret (Matthew 6:6) About fasting in secret (Matthew 6:18)
So, why are we encouraged to do these things “in secret?” Why are we directed to this quieter, more intimate path?
Because the God of the universe has some things that He simply wants to share with you. They are not for anyone else. They are secret treasures, only for the two of you.
Back when Jody and I were dating, my best friend was a guy named Terry. Terry and I drove Jody crazy because we never actually completed our sentences to each other. There was no need. He was my best friend, best man at my wedding. We had known each other so long and so well that there was nothing hidden. We had been through so much stuff together that we simply knew what the other guy was thinking.
Now, after 19 years married, Jody and I share the joy of secrets that don’t belong to anyone else but us. They are the exclusive domain of a husband and wife, and form the core of who we are as a couple. And we now possess life-giving secrets with our children, the kind that bonds us together as a family. Inside jokes that no one else will ever get, but that never fail to crack us up. Hard conversations had during times of struggle. Stories just for us and about us.
That’s what Jesus means by “in secret.” Not the secrets and lies that want to rob our life from us. No, those are the things that God invites us to bring to Him “in secret.” God, “who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Reward us with what? His presence.
In connecting with Him “in secret,” we cultivate an awareness that He is always with us, and on our side. And this only comes from spending time together, praying, giving, and focusing our inner life toward Him.
To steal a phrase from a friend, we are creating small “sacred containers.” These sacred containers are simply points of connection and conversation, where we allow God to share His life with us, and for us to share our lives with Him. These sacred containers are the places where you and God can hold your life affirming secrets, which are meant for only you and Him.
So what does this look like? How do you begin?
- Try sharing a secret with God. In prayer, simply tell him a secret. It can be something simple and silly, like “I’m not sure what those pastor types are talking ’bout half the time and I could care even less.” Or it could be something more intimate, closer to your heart.
- And then do something really crazy. Ask God to tell you a secret. Something just about you and Him. Trust that He is really there, that He really hears you, and that He actually cares about you – specifically – apart from anyone else.
- And somewhere where no one else could possibly read them, write down your impressions.
Try this three times – and see what happens. Would love to hear your thoughts on this practice. Weigh in with a comment.
Have a great week and I can’t wait to hear what you’re thinking!