– Secret Place Insights –
Dear One, in my childhood church, we occasionally sang the following hymn. And often, my godly grandmother was in the pew with me and my family. Sometime in early adulthood, I learned that it was Grandma’s favorite hymn. After learning that, when the hymn was sung, I pictured my sweet Grandma walking in the first few rows of Grandpa’s large vegetable garden…where her flowers grew. It was a lovely vision, but not once did I think of Grandma actually hearing from God. I did not know, other than those mentioned in Scripture, that anyone ever heard from God. Oh my, over the years, how the meaning of the hymn has changed.
In the Garden
By Austin Miles (1868-1946)
Verse 1. I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses,
and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. Refrain*
Grandma must have known that when we purpose to take time to be alone with God, we can have sweet fellowship with Him.
Verse 2: He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
and the melody that He gave to me, within my heart is ringing. Refrain*
Grandma never mentioned anything about a sweet melody, but one early morning, a sweet melody came with these words:
Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy.
Holy Father, Holy Jesus, Holy Spirit, holy
Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit…
Three in One, holy.
Verse 3: I’d stay in the garden with Him though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe His voice to me is calling. Refrain*
Such a surprising thing – to have God bid you go from your time alone with Him. But I have had that happen. And there is woe, woe for the closing of a treasured time. I suppose that happened to Grandma, too.
*Refrain: And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own;
and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.
Grandma never spoke about God’s sweet fellowship. I wish that she had. The line, “…none other has ever known,” sums up the problem of such fellowship remaining almost a secret. Few speak of the incredible relationship one can have with God, so…few know about it. How tragic it is…that the greatest of all relationships is still almost an unknown.
“According to Miles’ great-granddaughter, the song was written “in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in Pitman, New Jersey that didn’t even have a window in it let alone a view of a garden.” This is just one more proof of what many have experienced: when Man, living in devotion to God, intentionally sits alone with Him, God often gifts him with incomparable joy, along with an extraordinary sense of His Holiness.
I believe that when Grandma sang the hymn, she was reliving her special times alone with God.
The same hymn I sang in my youth, today is filled with a meaning that I once could not conceive, much like the Bible was for me. What changed? Certainly not the Bible, certainly not God, for He is unchanging. The hymn speaks of tarrying with God. Tarrying is what changed.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
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