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As I read this week’s quote I was struck by the word “strongholds”: Brick walls that keep us from going where we are destined to go. Thick walls that keep God out of the places He needs to get into the most. I have been working on destoying one of my own.
Strongholds are built initially for protection, but if we choose to find our refuge in self-built strongholds and not the fortress and shelter of God Almighty we miss out on God’s plan for us, even the risk that brings reward. A friend wrote to me recently of the description of Aslan in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis. I was confessing to her all sorts of issues I was dealing with and how difficult it was for me to overcome them. She said, “Like Aslan,God is not always safe but He is always good.”
As I considered this quote about walls my mind was drawn to David before he took the throne. He was fleeing for his life and hiding out in the “crag of the goats.” Yet, his safety never rested in where he was hiding – instead his safety was tied to who He trusted in, His God. He writes of this beautifully here: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Psalms 91:1-2 (NKJV).
We have a choice when we face pain, suffering, difficult people or situations and we must make that choice: We can build a stronghold around us of false security, unforgiveness and fear, or we can trust our God who demolishes strongholds and breaks down walls and sets us forth upon the road to our destiny. It is not without risk, it is not always safe, but the outcome is always good. Psalm 18:45 warns us that we will lose heart and come trembling in more fear if we rely on our strongholds. However, when God is our fortress, our enemy is the one who loses heart and comes trembling from his stronghold in defeat. The victory is ours.
If we choose to take refuge in self-built strongholds, our idea of safety and warfare become idols that stand between us and God. The stronghold becomes a snare of captivity and a foothold for the enemy. Satan amasses his troops around us and lays the assault that threatens to not only destroy our faith, but also our witness. It is this very thing that usually leads us into seasons of shaking and sifting where God brings about the circumstances that break down our walls for us. These times leave us feeling vulnerable to attack and requiring us to seek God as our refuge. If you are like me, at times we try to immediately rebuild the wall instead of running to God. But, once we turn to run to Him we will find He was waiting to meet us right there all along.
In the recently released movie Prince Caspian, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy return to a very different Narnia. It is a scary place where the freedom and mystery no longer exist, it is a place that is not safe as the children soon learn.
On the other side of the island, Prince Caspian is also learning that what he thought was secure and safe in his future becomes a dangerous, run for your life situation.
The heroes begin to amass the Narnians and seek to challenge those who have taken the light from Narnia once again. They hold up in a large pyramid like structure where monuments to the Narnia of the past have been built. At one point, the four children and Prince Caspian are discussing what they should do go and attack the enemy or wait in their “stronghold” for the enemy to attack them.
Peter then leads them on an assault against the enemy in their fortress. They breach the walls and fight, but lose. When the enemy comes to their hide-away, stronghold where they retreat after defeat… The real fight begins.
From this scene in Prince Caspian I begin to see what God is doing in our lives. Often times, as God’s Children, we do not turn to Him when we face battles, troubles and crises in our lives. Instead we run to what seems either safe or wise to our human minds. We try to take on the enemy with our own plans and our own strength or we simply run into the places we have built in our mind and our heart that feel safe. If our safe places or plans do not include God, and are not bound together by His Word and His Spirit, we will fail. Our strongholds are only illusions that end up trapping us for the enemy’s attack.
And the sad part is, the enemy didn’t have to trap us or capture us… We did it ourselves. God is waiting for us to seek Him, to rely on His to break down our walls and press us through the battle to the victory on the other side. It is His will for us to live life in fullness and victory – not just when we get to heaven, but right here on earth as well. Romans 8:28 says that God works all things for our good and His glory as long as we stick closely to the calling we have received according to His purpose.
We are called to move beyond our fear, and walk by faith and not by sight. We are called to live in the victory and not defeat and we have been given every weapon that we need to fight the battles we face and demolish the walls that stand between us and our God given destiny. And, as I have found, unlike Aslan, God is always safe and He is always good.
We must always take every negative thought captive to Christ by replacing the lies of this world and the enemy with a truth from God’s Word. If not, those lies and negative thoughts will become another brick in the wall that keeps us from our destiny.
Psalm 91 must be our mindset when we face struggles and trials of any kind. If it is not, we run the risk of building a “safe” place for ourselves that will only leave us vulnerable to the attack of the enemy and the warfare of our minds.
Only the brave go beyond the entrance to the stronghold, only the battle weary realize the victory – Fight the good fight of faith and receive the Crown of life as your reward.