Strongholds

Where is that place you run to?

What is that behavior you turn to?

Who is that person you lean on?

 

When you feel.

Scared.  Sad.  Unloved.  Offended.  Ashamed.  Less than.  Jealous.  Abused.  Unworthy.

 

But you actually want to feel better.

Safe.  Happy.  Loved.  Peaceful.  Forgiven.  Important.  Content.  Healed.  Cherished.

 

What is your “safe” place (or person) who gives you the illusion of peace when life gets hard, when “the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house” (Matthew 7:25).

 

This is your stronghold.

Strongholds

My what?  You might be asking this question, because stronghold is a word we don’t use too often.

 

Dictionary.com tells us a stronghold is “a place that serves as the center”.  It’s the place we go to feel loved.  It’s the person we run toward to feel special.  It’s the behavior we need to feel important.  Because we need to fill all the holes in our heart.  To cover the pain of our hurts.  To erase the burn of our shame.

 

But here’s the problem – if your stronghold isn’t God, you are standing on quicksand.  With only a matter of time before you get sucked in over your head and possibly destroyed.

 

Because you are relying on a person or place …

To give you freedom when they can only hold you hostage.

To give you peace when they only knows chaos.

To give you security when they can only bring you trouble.

To give you hope when they can only leave you desperate.

To give you love when they only know selfishness.

 

And you are living deceived.  You have been told the quicksand isn’t deadly and won’t hurt you.  You have listened to and given credibility to the evil whisper that says this will make you important.  You have ignored the warnings that “their strongholds you will set on fire” (1 Kings 8:12).

 

Because a stronghold is an illusion.  It is the “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5), telling you that this is how you find and feel God’s love.  But this unreal love always comes in a form that cannot fulfill you and will not sustain you.  And it eventually leaves you empty, lonely, and dispassionate.  Until one day you realize it has become quicksand.  Pulling you in.  Sucking you down.  Eating you alive.  One choice at a time.  Until you are stuck – eventually over your head.  Without hope.  No way of rescue.  The gloom of death looming.

 

And that is not the abundant life Jesus died to give us.

 

So what stronghold have you built?

God sees every one of them.

God knows the heart – and the hurt – behind every one of them.

 

And God is calling to you just as He did to David – “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart” (1 Samuel 22:5).  He wants to walk with you “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) so you come out to the other side – where He has the best version of everything you are seeking.

 

But what happens when we won’t go willingly?  What happens when we fight Him?  He will come after us and “throw down all your strongholds” (Lamentations 2:2, Micah 5:11).  He will leave no stone left standing – “You have broken down all his hedges; You have brought his strongholds to ruin” (Psalm 89:40) – so He can rebuild you with a solid foundation of truth.

 

Because there is only room enough in our hearts for one Master (Matthew 6:24).  And God wants it to be Him.

  • “The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:3)
  • “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” (Psalm 18:2).
  • “The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).

 

So let’s go back to the beginning.

Where is that place you run to?

What is that behavior you turn to?

Who is that person you lean on?

 

Recognize it.

Own your part.

And then dominate it.

 

Because today is the day you can make a change to stop running to that unsafe “safe” place and “return to the stronghold” (Zechariah 9:12) of God.  Stop being a peasant and peon to someone or something that can never love you truly.

 

Choose instead to lean into God and become one of His “prisoners of hope” (Zechariah 9:12).

 

Put your pain and shame in His loving hands.  And allow Him to do a divine exchange – “To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3).

 

For a stronghold will strangle us.

But God will always strengthen us.

For a stronghold will entangle us.

But God will always enable us.

For a stronghold will frustrate us.

But God will always free us.

For a stronghold will confuse us.

But God will always comfort us.

For a stronghold will abandon us.

But God will always accept us.

 

So today, choose God.  And find exactly what you need.  So you won’t need that stronghold anymore to fill in the gaps and feebly attempt to make yourself feel whole.

 

Marie Fremin.   9/9/17, 9/15/17, 9/16/17

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