This is thought to be the place where Paul spent the winter in Malta. Photo: Kay Helm
We visited Malta, the island where Paul was shipwrecked, last year. God had saved everyone on Paul’s ship, and friendly islanders offered shelter and warmth to the soaked and shivering seamen. As they watched, Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake, but it did not affect him.
Paul sheltered in a cave (now known as St. Paul’s Grotto) and stayed over the winter. By the time he left, many in Malta believed in Christ.
Later, during WWII, this strategic island came under siege from Axis forces, which dropped over 16,000 tons of bombs. People took refuge in cisterns and catacombs, and they dug new subterranean shelters. Eventually, the entire population of Malta could be kept underground. We visited one of these tunnel complexes, attached to St. Paul’s Grotto. The limestone passages are low and narrow, with small, hand-chiseled rooms where families took refuge.
Psalm 91 describes the Lord as a shelter, refuge, fortress, and a dwelling place. He covers those who love Him, and gives them peace in the midst of terror.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
Coming up from Malta’s tunnels, the broad blue sky and fresh sea air are welcoming. Beautiful azure waters stretch across the horizon.
When I think about my secret place, two settings come to mind. One is small and hidden away from noise and distractions. This is a place of intercession and warfare, quiet reverence and praise to His great Name. I can see the nations from my secluded fortress.
Other times, it’s a wide open sky with water and waves, or the spectacle of majestic peaks. It’s big and bold and beautiful. This is the grand secret place of wonder and awe.
Both are needed. While the refuge feels safer, the bright, open spaces display His power and magnificence. I am reminded of the greatness of our God, Creator of the universe in whom all things are held together.
God is so amazing, almighty, grand, and unfathomable. Close as a whisper. Near in times of need. He is ready to meet us if we will come to the secret place.
~ Kay Helm