It didn’t look much like a fort. What it did look like was a bedspread, a blanket, and some furniture. The apparatus was secured on one end by a dresser drawer and draped over the backs of two or three chairs to form a kind of crude tent, and a corner was pulled back to act as a door. The boys had their army helmets on, their utility belts fastened around their waists, and their weapons in hand. I wanted to smile because the scene was so cute, but the look on their faces let me know that this was serious military business, and no time for frivolity. The enemy was doubtlessly lurking out there in the hallway somewhere, and everyone was in grave danger. This magnificent fort and their strategic genius constituted the last line of defense against whatever evil force was about to be launched against us. The fort was adequately supplied, of course. There was no shortage of Nerf gun ammunition, and the valiant warriors inside had enough snacks and bottled water to withstand an extended siege, even if it lasted until lunchtime. I couldn’t help but feel safer knowing that such a fortress was in place.
Forts Are Not a New Idea ~
There’s something primal, instinctive, and compelling, at least to guys, about the idea of building a fort. Whether we think of them in terms of ancient stone walls or the reinforced concrete bunkers of our own day, their objective has always been the same, to create a place of refuge, a safe place with an impenetrable barrier between a vulnerable people and the enemies they fear.
Fortresses are always in our thinking because in spite of our boasts of intellectual superiority and the continually expanding wealth of information, we human beings can’t seem to live in harmony with each other anywhere. We are cursed with a selfish and contentious nature that’s prone to resort to violence to get what it wants. Whether it’s a verbal assault on social media, or somebody making obscene gestures as though the near-collision they caused is our fault, or even an outright physical attack, and whether we’re the perpetrator or the victim, conflict finds us. It’s almost oxymoronic that a people so conditioned to aggressive opposition and conflict would, at the same time, harbor such a deep longing for peace and safety, but we do.
‘Snowflakes’ – Not the Only Ones Wanting Safe Spaces ~
The snowflakes populating our colleges and universities aren’t the only ones looking for safe places, but the concerns driving most of us are a little more significant than whether we’re going to be emotionally scarred by exposure to an idea we disagree with. Every new day comes with an awareness that there are enemies stalking our welfare on every side, and all of us long for a fortress where the things we fear can’t get to us. The problem is that the fortresses we design always come with built-in flaws.
For instance, they aren’t always available, and the fact that a fortress exists somewhere doesn’t help at all if you can’t get to it. And … in order to get inside at all, you must have a gate. If the gate can’t be securely shut and barred, then your fortress only represents a minor delay to your attacker. Beyond that, if the enemy’s weapons and tactics are constantly evolving and your fortress can’t keep up, then you’re in trouble.
God Has a Better Idea ~
No matter how we design our fortresses, they always fail eventually, because, like us, they all have flaws. That’s why God invited us into one that fits every circumstance, and one we could never build. David described it this way:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust” (Psalm 91:1-2(NKJV).
For whatever peace-robbing fear that might be haunting us today, there’s one Fortress that absorbed every weapon the enemy has – and overcame them all. The attack left His torn body nailed to cross, and then sealed in a lifeless tomb, but only for a while. When the stone was rolled away and the earth awoke three days later, the One who walked out had become an impenetrable fortress and He invites us into Himself. He will stand between us and the things we fear, and that longing for peace and security that creeps into every flawed fortress we build can be fulfilled in Him. Anything short of that might as well be a blanket thrown over some chairs.
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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