Throughout my life, I’ve had opportunities to visit many of the forts along our Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coasts. It’s not a particular interest of mine, and rarely has it been something I consciously chose to do. My parents took me as a child. Then in adolescence and adulthood, I happened to go along with others who wanted to visit them. My attitude has been, “Ho, hum. You’ve seen one fort, you’ve seen them all.”
Two things have gotten my attention lately that made me think again about the forts on our coastlines. First, is the plan to mitigate Covid-19. We’re staying at home. We hope this keeps us safe from the unseen pestilence floating around beyond our property lines. Our leaders have used language identifying this as a battle against a fierce enemy, so our homes have become a fortress of protection. When we do go out, we’ve extended our personal space to a six foot radius, and it’s recommended that we wear protective gloves and masks.
Second, last week, J.D. Wininger’s blog post from “Around the Cross Dubya” ( https://jdwininger.com/2020/04/08/bull-strong-and-horse-high/ ) was about fences on his ranch needing to be bull strong and horse high. After a little lesson on fencing – not the sport, he compared it to having faith boundaries. As God protects him from the temptations of the world, growing in faith is an internal change process. So, our faith fence needs to be double-sided, “sin strong and temptation high.”
All these ideas go against our cultural drift toward open minds, open morals, open borders, and open personal boundaries. But there’s always a war going on. We wage literal military campaigns around the world. There was the war on poverty and the war on drugs. There are battles between ideologies and power struggles between parties.
Early settlers in this country quickly took measures to protect themselves, their families, and their homes. They built many inland forts, but our coastlines were dotted with fortresses as well.
When we put up a privacy fence around our backyard, a friend of ours called our property, “Fort Rogers.”
I thought of dogs who feel safe in their crates, and children who enjoy building forts of blankets and couch cushions in the living room.
Then I thought of the castles of Europe and the British Isles. These huge homes were complex fortresses. I thought of Hadrian’s Wall in the UK and the Great Wall of China. I recalled that there have been many walled cities throughout history. Self-preservation is a strong human instinct.
I remembered Jerusalem, whose walls were rebuilt by Nehemiah and the returning exiles from Babylon. Then I thought of David who found a way to breach the walls of the Jebusites and take possession of the city that became his – the walled City of David which became Jerusalem.
This same David wrote the verses in Psalm 91 that we are hearing so often during the spread of this virus:
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. Psalm 91:2-3
He also wrote:
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress, and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; Psalm 31:2-3
I could list many other scriptures that carry out this same idea.
I know the Apostle Paul is quoting a pagan Greek poet when he said:
for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; – Acts 17:28
But the truth is there. In the Lord Almighty, we do live and move and have our being. Somehow, we live in Him. He is our strong tower. He is our castle. He is our fort. He is our protector and deliverer.
Don’t you love Him? I’m so thankful that He has defined the boundaries, built the walls, and instructed us about them in His Word. That gives us hope. We can feel safe and secure in Him, no matter what battle rages outside.