The Secret Place of the Stairs

I originally wrote this article three years ago, when I was in college and going through a tough season of disappointment. I’ve waited to publish until now — because the lessons God taught be then were so real but painful they were hard to share. But I’m so grateful for those seasons looking back and hope you will be equally blessed by some of the Lord’s lessons.

“There is a viewless cloistered room
As high as heaven, as fair as day,
Where though my feet may join the throng,
My soul can enter in and pray.

One hearkening even cannot know
When I have crossed the threshold o’er,
For He alone who hears my prayers,
Has heard the shutting of the door.”
— Amy Carmichael

I settled down in a cozy spot in my college library to eat my lunch the other day. I was feeling somewhat dreary, empty inside. Only a few weeks earlier, the Lord had shut the door to something I had been dreaming of, and though grateful for His leading, I was still in the that inevitable grieving process that insists on leaving an empty place in your heart even when you desperately wish to move on.

Closing my eyes, an image I had recently read came flooding back. Slowly, I inched my way to the stone staircase and summoned up the courage to ascend those steps. Nearing the top, I caught a glimpse of that cloistered room seeming to anticipate my arrival. But I needn’t knock. The door was open, open for me, for my Beloved Lord was standing there, eager to once again invite me into the fellowship of His stairs.

“O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely” (S.S. 2:14).

I have been a frequent visitor to that divine staircase. For my Lord has promised to meet me at any time, in any place in His upper chamber, even if I must traverse those stairs a thousand times a day. He will never turn away, for He delights in our fellowship, to give us the strength to make it through whatever the difficulty, and even to impart in us a mysterious joy. And when once again, I must descend the staircase and dive back into the mundane of everyday life, the peaceful aroma of that room continues to fill my soul.

The world has a way of escape, Isobel Kuhn once reminded, “but Christ had a way of escape too — to let Him fill all the empty places in our hearts. (Let us) to tryst with (our) heavenly Lover, to meet Him in the secret of the stairs, and confide the sorrows of (our) souls to His loving pure heart.”

The beauty of this secret place is that it is always open, no matter how often or in what hour of the day or night we steal up the stairs to see Him in our difficulties. And there are difficulties in our lives—each an opportunity to meet our Lord in that secret place. The pressure of responsibilities, nagging health problems, the pain of relationships that don’t work out, the long ache of waiting for God to work when no solution is in sight, or a thousand other trials we face in our lives. Dreams die. We fail and fall. And others don’t live up to our expectations. But in the midst of it all, as we fly to Christ, He becomes more and more precious.

Let us fly. Let us run. Or when we have no strength remaining, let us crawl up those stairs. There we will find Jesus, and there is nothing more life-giving than seeing His face!


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