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  • Writer's pictureJimmy Alexander

How the Secret Place Prevents Relapse

Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”

It is no exaggeration to say that this Bible verse has radically impacted my recovery. In this verse we are given a promise attached to a condition: that those who dwell in the secret place will rest in the shadow of God Almighty. What a promise! The secret place refers to private time where we are alone and conversing with God. Perhaps it is your time with God when you go on a walk in the woods. Maybe it is a morning routine when you wake up and go into your prayer closet. Whatever form or method, the secret place refers to quality time spent in the presence of God. Now, cultivating a relationship with God is no easy task - I will be the first to admit that. But whether we want to admit it or not, it is what we need most. Intimacy with God is what we are all truly searching for. Unfortunately, we tend to search in all the wrong places. We often indulge in all types of temporary pleasures to fill that empty void within our hearts. But it is only in the secret place with Jesus that we are most alive, most filled, and fully satisfied. The secret place is what feeds our souls, refreshes our spirits, and puts our minds at rest in times of trouble. Is there anything greater than the presence of God?


The secret place has been vital in my recovery from drug addiction. As a former addict, the secret place has completely taken precedence over any other form of coping. My old sin nature and the devil are constantly trying to reel me back. I know that many people say relapse is a part of recovery, but I didn’t desire it to be a part of mine. I knew that the only way I could overcome the urge to use drugs again was to fall in greater love with Jesus and cast myself upon God during times of trouble - which all happens in the secret place. The secret place protects us in times of trouble, particularly in times of life tragedies and in times of overwhelming temptation.


The Secret Place When Tragedy Occurs:

The secret place is the remedy we need when tragedies in our lives occur. Life tragedies will surely come. Most former addicts will admit that they have a difficult time dealing with their emotions because they have numbed them for so long with drugs or alcohol. One of the biggest contributors to relapse is when life tragedies occur to a person who is in recovery. The person experiences overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger, or confusion. Because these emotions are somewhat new, uncomfortable, and difficult to manage, a common coping mechanism is to go back to a chemical that temporarily makes these emotions go away. We want to numb the pain.

However, if we earnestly cultivate a lifestyle of being alone with Jesus, then escaping pain by using drugs or alcohol will cease to be an option.


Building a strong habit of running to the secret place brings greater healing and refuge than any created substance in this world. We become so in love with being in the secret place that we will run to the Creator instead of running to created things. Jesus becomes the soother of our souls. Instead of putting a chemical into our bodies to numb the emotions, we take the emotions out of us and place them into the hands of God. Drugs and alcohol will mask the emotions for a season, but Jesus will forever help us through our emotions with a promise of His everlasting peace. When we fall in love with the presence of God, we realize that He offers a far greater remedy for our pain than what chemicals ever could. We come to realize that the band-aids of this world will not fix our wounds, but that God (who is Healer) is willing to provide a lasting remedy.


The Secret Place When Temptation Comes:

Temptation can be overwhelming and powerful. In fact, temptation can be so strong at times that if we do not cry out to God for help we will utterly yield to the temptation that is calling. If there is one temptation that is easy to fall into, it is the wooing call of drugs or alcohol. There are, of course, certain temptations that we might be able to overcome by distracting ourselves or occupying our minds with other healthy things. There are some we might even be able to simply 'will-power' ourselves through. But that is not how Jesus wants us to deal with temptation. He wants us to come to Him. When we dwell in the secret place we are literally resting in the Shadow of the Almighty (Ps. 91:1). We are under the wing of our Creator, and temptation cannot reach us there. It is His heart's desire that we would run to Him in times of trouble, to dwell in the secret place, so that He can lift us up over the shout of temptation.


1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”


Here we have a two-fold promise: that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear and that He will provide a way out of the temptation. If there is one thing about God that we should know, it is that He wants to assist us in overcoming sinful behavior. He wants to help. He wants to show us His power. He desires to uplift us in times of distress. He wants to set us free from bondage. And He provides a way out. Do you believe this? It is in the secret place that God gives us glimpses of His love and glory which melt all our sorrows away. A person may enter the secret place in misery and sorrow, but he will come out changed and his strength will be renewed. This not only prevents us from falling into relapse, but it helps us to fall in greater love with Jesus. When the secret place becomes our home, the voice of temptation becomes less appetizing.

How well acquainted are you with the secret place? When temptation comes, to whom do you run? What is your refuge? From where do you draw strength? Learn to run to Jesus when temptation and tragedies strike. How will you ever know if you've never tried? Place trust in God and in His Word. For He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

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