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In The Carpenter’s Workshop: My fortress

A fortress is a place that is protected from attack.  They are usually built on high places, mountains or hills, which aid in repelling attackers.

Castles all over the world were built first as huge fortresses, then as places to live for the Lord, Family, and household.  In today’s world most of them, except those funded by governments or surviving royalty, are in ruins.

But they stand as a high example of how we can seek safety if we are protected by the right fortress.  The one with unbreachable walls.  The one which no one can capture.  The one which cannot be destroyed by any forces.

That castle for Christians is the Lord God Almighty.  The psalmist writes, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” ~ Psalm 46:1,11

This reality is one among many attributes of God which Christians would do well to count on in every situation.  God’s strength is unquestionable.  God’s power is unlimited.   And we gain strength and power because we live in that heavenly fortress.

One hundred eighty three men gave their lives in the fierce battle at the Alamo fortress in Texas.  Among them were Lieutenant Colonels Jim (“A knife is always loaded”) Bowie, William B. Travis and former U.S. House of Representative (Tennessee) Davey Crockett.  Even though not one man survived, they showed their mettle -- eight Mexican soldiers died at the Alamo for every one Texan.  They gave their lives for something bigger than themselves – Texas’ liberation from Mexico.  For them it was the ultimate sacrifice -- but it had long-reaching rewards for others.

“Remember the Alamo!” has become the rallying cry for many as they fought wars across the world, as causes become greater than individual lives and perspective helps us rise over, what at the time, seem like insurmountable odds.

Sitting majestically atop the highest hill in Toledo, Spain, is the Alcazar, a 16th-century fortress.  In the civil war of the 1930s, the Alcazar became a battleground when the Loyalists tried to oust the Nationalists, who held the fortress.  During one dramatic episode of the war, the Nationalist leader received a phone call while in his office at the Alcazar.  It was from his son, who had been captured by the Loyalists.  The ultimatum:  If the father didn’t surrender the Alcazar to them, they would kill his son.  The father weighed his options.  After a long pause and with a heavy heart, he said to his son, “Then die like a man.”

When the Romans and Jews killed Jesus on the cross after imprisoning him in Antonio’s fortress, they thought they had won.  But the opposite was true.  Jesus won the souls of millions who would turn to him.  

Jesus, at that moment on the rock of Calvary, changed the world forever.  He died so that others might live.  He chose to step away from that fortress of safety for a time and return in resurrected form.

God’s fortress is built with love which always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  This is the kind of fortress God is for all of his people.

A song we loved to sing in college devotion times was “Love is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart.”  The clincher for me has always been the line, “for the king is in residence here.”  It is a rollicking, moving tune which inspires, uplifts and challenges us to always trust in God the mighty fortress.

A  group of American tourists on a tour of Europe were being guided through an ancient castle.

“This place,” the guide told them, “is 600 years old. Not a stone in it has been touched, nothing altered, and nothing replaced in all those years.”

“Wow,” said one woman dryly, “they must have the same landlord that I do.”

The difference between this castle and the fortress that is our God is that the world is always being changed by him.  That fortress must inspire us to crusades which let people know of God’s strength and love.  We should sally forth from there on missions of mercy.  It must inspire us to believe in someone and something greater than ourselves.

There will always be times in our lives where fear or discouragement find their way into our thoughts.  The wonderful news is that they can be banished immediately, because there is no room in God’s fortress for these devils of darkness.

Martin Luther’s hymn,” A Mighty Fortress is our God” captures this idea well.  “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing,  For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe, on earth is not [God’s ] equal.

Our God is always saving, always loving, always protecting, always restoring, always walking with us.  This living, attentive God is the one who has and will ever be my fortress, and I hope and pray he will be yours as well.