When I was a little girl growing up in the back woods of our little town, there was a woodpile in our back yard that became my fort. With my trusty plywood rifle, I could fight off all the imaginary indians that were attacking from the woods surrounding our house. Soon my big sister and I built real forts out in the woods where we would escape from the neighborhood boys (our big brothers and their friends). These forts were quite elaborate, made from sapling pine trees slashed together, with thatched palmetto branches for the walls and roof. We spent many a day perfecting our fort and making it better than the boys', or so we thought. Then they'd come and attack the fort and tear it down, and we'd have to start all over. Of course, we retaliated and tried our best to destroy their fort as well.Psalm 18:2-3 "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, Who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies."
Ah, the innocence of youth! You know, the interesting thing is, these forts were in the thickest palmetto scrub of the old Florida piney woods, and we were often barefooted, without any kind of weapon to protect ourselves from the wild reptiles, scorpions and other creeping things who were the natural inhabitants of those woods. When I look back on it now I realize that our guardian angels must have been working overtime to keep us safe from harm. We never so much as saw or heard any snakes while playing in the safety of our woodland forts, but we know they had to be curled up and hiding nearby. We would often come home on a sunny day to find a six-foot rattlesnake stretched out across our road, and even one time actually lying across our doorstep, barring our path into the house! Our big brother became our hero that day as he quickly snuck around to the back of the house and found a sharp garden hoe with which to decapitate the unsuspecting slumbering diamondback. You can bet we each had a good story to tell our friends at school the next day!
Today I still live in a woodsy area, but I haven't seen a live rattlesnake in the open for many years. However, the dangers that surround us now are oftentimes much more sinister and creepy than snakes that can be destroyed with a garden hoe. The nightly news often reminds us that there are many two-legged enemies out there seeking to destroy our peace and sense of security, and we find ourselves barring the doors with more locks and alarms than any fortress ever had in the old days. Certainly there are real dangers there, and we need to practice proper safety techniques lest we be caught unaware.
Because our world has become so fraught with terror and insecurity, it is easy to give in to these fears and become captive in our own minds, afraid to venture out lest someone might unknowingly step onto a tender place in our hearts. Oftentimes our biggest enemies are the ones we create in our own hearts and minds...the internal enemies of self-defeat, self-pity, fear of failure, and lack of trust. There is no weapon formed by man that can defeat these enemies, because the enemy is often within. But there is One Who can deliver us from all fear...One who wants to be our fortress, our shield from danger, our stronghold in the face of the attack of any enemy, whether real or imaginary...Who is this strong deliverer?
"Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle...Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He IS the King of Glory!" (Psalm 24:8-10)