The Secret Den

it needs to be covered in woven grass with a woven lattice grass door….

Once upon a lifetime, there was an ordinary little girl, who lived in a big old house, with secret corridors, a scary dark cellar and the bogeyman. Suzie did as she was told (mostly because she would be in very big trouble if she didn’t) and she wanted everyone to be happy and to like her. She lived with her mother, her father, her big sister, and the cat, Smokey.

She didn’t really remember their first house, where her mother had gone up in flames, but then, when she was four, they went to live in the caravan in the countryside. In the waking hours, between sleeps on her little bench in the caravan, she would daydream in the stream, or in her dens in the bushes and trees. She has some scary memories of beatings, rifles and accidents, but mostly she loved the caravan, emerging into herself in the fresh space outside and with her friend at the little village school. She sees and smells the pinks and wallflowers in the skimpy border around the tiny metal home, and feels how, one bleak September day, she returned to find her dens and all the bushes destroyed.

Then they moved to this big house, with the cellar, the bogeyman and the blue Persian cat, Smokey. Her mother had a shop to run and her father had cars to mend, but often he stayed at home, battling a wicked spirit that would make him either frighteningly angry, or terribly sad. At the new school, they laughed at her old clothes and silly haircuts and she went bright red, clumsy and dumb. The two friends she made were never allowed in her house and she was never allowed in theirs. The teachers liked her work, so she worked hard to please them. At school, she learned that she was slow, poor, shy and ‘boring’, but good at reading, writing and drawing. She knew she was strong and wanted to be a gymnast and a circus-acrobat. At home she learned that men could become suddenly violent and very dangerous; that nobody could be trusted; that she was ‘just like her mother’; and that the safest thing, in life, was to try to make people happy and get them to like you… but sadly, that it was impossible for Suzie and, no matter what she did, she always got it wrong!

In the Summer of her twelfth year, Suzie joined a group of singing sunbeams for a week’s holiday to a seaside in Wales. She felt happy there and every morning and evening they would go into a little chapel and sing songs and tell stories about Jesus. At night, the chapel became a magical place with candles twinkling, colours dancing and soothing sounds of rest. It was more than all the words she had to describe her feelings, and she wanted it to last forever. She hadn’t dared to hope for such a thing, but the chapel felt like the home in a Fairy Tale. In the daylight, the seaside was real, but, every evening, the magic returned. On the third evening, Suzie desperately cried for the magic to stay with her forever; for Jesus to forgive all her sins and to make His home in her. She gave Jesus her heart, but she wasn’t sure He would want it! The following morning, in the cold light of cornflakes, she felt foolish for having hoped and knew she’d done it wrong and deserved nothing anyway. But every night the magic became more real and every night she gave Him her heart and sat beside Him, allowing Him to welcome her, gentle, listening, and to let her rest her head… He became her secret place of rest, her new den, and although He already knew everything, Suzie could say whatever she thought or felt and be safe…

She had to leave the chapel, but Suzie took home her secret hiding-place. She gave her heart to Him over and over, just in case she’d got it wrong, because she still felt so dirty, lazy and stupid. And in that special den, she was made right again; forgiven, safe, warm, welcome and wanted. Like magic!

But Jesus was not magic. At the onset of her teenage years, forces of wickedness grew wild and ferocious against her, but He did not wave a magic wand and make the bad things stop, or give her the nice things she asked for. He simply promised to be with her. He was not her fairy God-mother after-all, so, as she left girlhood behind and the battle against her raged, she was often terrified and either rebelled or resisted as she fought her many battles. But He kept His promise to always be with her. Every time she looked for Jesus in her secret den, there He was, faithfully waiting, gently listening, full of mercy, love and forgiveness. He let her hide, get her breath and courage back, picked her back up, refreshed her, gave her another chance, another hope…

She escaped from the battlefield at home, but had still more skirmishes to fight, and finally, battle weary and scarred, 19 years old and full of hope, she gave Him not just her broken-heart, but her whole life and let Him wash off all the grime in the waters of baptism. Such Joy. Such hope. Such transforming love!

43 years on from that chapel in Wales, Suzie still has her den. It is her heart’s home of precious treasure and plunder from battle victories. In the centre is the cross and the crown, of the lamb and the lion, who are her faithful friends; the surrounding space is filled with the light of love, illuminating tiny containers of years of tears, the perfume of prayer and gifts of grace, permeated with thankful praise. Mountains of mercy embrace the treasure and a fountain of healing joy bubbles daily, fresh from the well beside the cross…

Nobody, nor any force in all creation, can ever destroy this den or the treasure contained within. It is an everlasting testimony to the Glory of a faithful God.

21 thoughts on “The Secret Den

  1. Wow Dawn this is immensely beautiful. It feels so real …like I’m standing right next to Suzie and feeling all the things she would probably feel. It is filled with grace and emotion. Do you know a Suzie? Are you Suzie? It feels too real …..sorry for asking….

    Liked by 2 people

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