Sandra McCracken’s hymns CD, The Builder and the Architect, has been in my car’s stereo, exclusively, for over a week now. Every few days I discover another song which I love. Friday I found “In the Secret of His Presence.” Slow, sparse arrangement. Guitar, mandolin, vocal. Poignant lyrics, penned by Ellen Goreh in 1883. The kind that take a while to digest.
We saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Saturday night. Afterward I walked slowly to my car, to drive it home. But rushing to the hubbub of the Christmas party didn’t feel right. I needed to stop, to reflect. I drove all of one block to the Target parking lot where I parked the car, turned up the stereo, and listened to Sandra sing. Behind my eyes replayed the final scenes of the film, and when the credits came, rather than hearing Alanis Morissette’s “Wunderkind,” it was . . .
In the secret of His presence, how my soul delights to hide!
O, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus’ side!
Earthly cares forever vex me, all my trials lay me low;
But when Satan comes to tempt me, to that secret place I go.
In that moment I understood Satan through the form of the White Witch, and, whether real or imagined, the presence of God through the form of the great lion Aslan.
When my soul is faint and thirsty, ‘neath the shadow of His wing
There is cool and pleasant shelter, and a fresh and crystal spring;
And my Savior rests beside me, as we hold communion sweet.
If I tried, I could not utter what He says when thus we meet.
My mind now full, visions of a live and lush country, Narnia. Its rivers, hills, valleys, mountain peaks, sunsets, and flowering trees no mere imagining, a fiction or fantasy. I could see them. And with their form and shape so clearly, tangibly fixed in my mind, I became all the more able to imagine myself resting there in sweet communion with the untame lion.
Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs and fears;
O, how patiently He listens! And my sorrowed soul He cheers.
Do you think he ne’er reproves me? What a false friend He would be,
If he never, never told me of the sin which He must see.
And then I was Edmund and we were standing on that hill at sunrise. He saw through all my layers; he knew what I had done, he knew what it meant, what it would mean; and I’m not quite sure what he said, but I remember his eyes, and I remember surrender, and I know he befriended me there.
Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath His shadow. This shall then be your reward;
And whene’er you leave the silence of that happy meeting place,
You will surely bear the image of the Master on your face.
The song finished; I paused, shut off the car, and went into Target. And as I perused the aisles, picking out a box of Choxie (for the gift exchange at the Christmas party I was becoming increasingly tardy to), a Christmas compilation CD, and some new black socks, my step skipped and my face beamed. Surrounded there by holiday shoppers I was happy of the season and of my Savior.