Trusting the right fort to protect our soul

Kids like to build forts. Adults like to build forts too, but we don’t build forts made of bricks and concrete. The materials we use might be a lot of good works we do, thinking we’re protecting ourselves from facing consequences for our sin. Or it can be a fortress built by putting on an act and telling everybody we’re doing great. We might fill up our schedule with all kinds of things that keep us busy in an effort to build a wall that keeps us from facing our fears and hurts.

We all need a fortress, but not the ones we build. We need the fortress built by the Lord. In our recent vacation Bible school the good news was shared that in this scary world we can find a fortress. We can run to God. He protects us and keeps us safe. “He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 62:5-6).

At times we hide behind the false fortress of our own strength. We don’t want to let other people in. We’re afraid they’ll see the real us and all our weaknesses and shortcomings. If they see that, they may not like us. So we build the fort.

We might have all kinds of things we want to keep hidden behind a fortress. It may be a past we’re ashamed of, weakness we don’t want to admit, hurts and pains we try to ignore and bury deep in our soul. We build a fortress around these things. The walls we build prevent others from getting into our lives and getting close.

The apostle Paul was willing to tear down walls and let others into his life. “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also. … Make room for us in your hearts” (II Corinthians 6:11-13, 7:2).

When we are secure that God is our fortress, we find freedom to take down the false fortresses we try to build. God keeps our soul safe. Our fears fade and we can let others in and let them know who we really are.

9780310344759_4I recently read the book, “No More Faking Fine: Ending the Pretending” by Esther Fleece. I appreciated the book and would recommend it for you to read. The author suffered through a terrible childhood and it caused her to build a lot of forts around her soul. She was trying to protect herself from getting hurt again. She tried to pretend she was over the pain and everything was fine. She hadn’t been truly loved growing up and it caused her to doubt people would love her if they learned of her weakness and hurt. But then the good news of Jesus broke down the forts she had made. She realized God knew her completely and still loved her. His true love and grace was a fortress she could count on. She could take down the forts of faking fine and trying to work hard to earn people’s respect and affection. She found security and welcome in the mighty fortress of Jesus’ love.

Each of us can find rest for the soul and everlasting love in the fortress of God’s grace.

Who knows how the ride ends?

Recently somebody brought to church some big cardboard boxes that had been folded flat. They’re going to be used for decorating for vacation Bible school. We wanted them downstairs. Sliding them down the staircase seemed a whole lot more fun than carrying them down. The thought of riding the cardboard down the stairs was considered. There have been times when I maybe would have done that. Doing those things when I was a kid resulted in me having to explain to my mom how I got the bruise and why it was the same shape as the indentation on the wall. This time I looked down at the pretty solid door to the furnace room that is close to the bottom of the stairs and thought it would maybe be best to just slide the cardboard down the stairs without a rider.

Too often in life we don’t look ahead to consider what might result from our decisions and where things might end. Sometimes the beginning looks fun so we hop on the ride without thinking about where it’s going. The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Some rides start fun but they don’t end well.

It is hard for us to know how things are going to end. It’s great to know that God knows. He sees ahead to the ending. He is aware if there is trouble up ahead. Sometimes I have started down a path and it seemed like God was putting obstacles in my way that frustrated me. Looking back I can see that God was being gracious. He has stopped me from making some bad decisions I wanted to make and got in the way of me going on rides that would have ended in disaster. The Lord has graciously protected me from me.

The Bible assures us that “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (I John 3:20). He knows if a decision we’re about to make will lead to danger. He knows if the path we’re on is full of potholes and problems. He knows how to guide us and protect us. He knows which direction leads to trouble and which one leads to joy. He knows when it’s okay to hop on that ride and when we shouldn’t. We can trust in God’s loving and wise care.