Please, Lord, Hold me in this calm, secret place, Confident, quiet, and free. Circled around by your embrace Where there’s only you and me. (Living Calm 2016)
Not long after my life-changing conversion experience, I attended a Christmas Eve service with my sister and her family in a different denomination. The pastor referred to Christ before us, Christ beside us, and Christ within us. That was the first time that I’d heard the Lord described that way. And yet I immediately thought, “of course.”
The Christ before me was easily appreciated. I’d always trusted and looked to God, the Father. Trusting and looking to the Son in the same way was effortless. And opening myself to Christ’s presence within us was also easy to accept. As Paul wrote, we gain strength “through his Spirit in the inner man” or “inner being” (Eph. 3:16).
What I remember most clearly, though, after a lifetime of lonely struggle and self-effort, was the comfort of Christ beside me. Being “circled around” by the Lord’s presence means that I, and you, are never isolated or alone. Now when I’m feeling uncertain, I pause and let the Lord walk into the room ahead of me. When I’m facing something scary, I fall back saying, “Here it is, Lord. You take it.”
The Greek words for secret and mystery can refer to something hidden, unseen. The wonderful secret within Christian believing is that the spirit of Jesus, though unseen, is still always with us. This is the mystery that the resurrection and ascension make possible. Jesus said then and continues to say now, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). Before us, within us, and beside us—all around us in all times and in all ways.