I was standing in the hallway yesterday waiting on my class of third graders to get out of the bathroom, when all the sudden, I was fighting back tears. I don’t recall any specific thing being said (I have a hair trigger for tears), I was just suddenly overwhelmed with this need to cry. But I couldn’t. And since that happened before 9:00 a.m., I just plucked myself up and kept on with my day, aware that a reservoir was about to come undone in me.
After school, we decided that since it was 80 degrees and would be the nicest day of the week, we’d go fishing. We are hosting a German foreign exchange student, and he loves fishing. All our poles were carelessly broken last year, so before we went, we had to stop by Wal-Mart and pick up supplies. Eighty dollars later, we were ready to go fishing. Fast-forward thirty minutes and we are sitting on the bank of a river smelling the rot of a nearby carcass and I’m trying to fix one of the fishing poles. The reel was broken. Wal-Mart sold me crap. Again.
Once again, I’m fighting back tears. I just wanted to come, put a line in the water and relax. After half an hour of that, I put the useless pole down and just sat, trying to fight off the feeling of the battle inside me. Trying to fend off thoughts of abandonment. Again. Wishing one freaking day would go perfect, and life wouldn’t be so overwhelmingly stacked against me. Because I know these feelings are fleeting, but they seem to come oftener as of late.
When someone finally got bored and handed me a pole, I caught a big one my first cast. The biggest dang log that river had to offer. I started to get upset again, but then I had my first orginal thought of the day: “You just wanted to sit, put a line in the water and relax. So now, relax.” There I sat, my hook firmly set in the side of a rotting log at the bottom of the river, and I felt the first wave of peace. My mind, finally at ease to worship, began to serenade my heart. “A mighty fortress is our God! A sacred refuge is His name. His kingdom is unshakeable. With him forever we will reign.”
Amazing. I had spent a few minutes in the Psalms in the earlier hours of the day, reading of David’s vascillating emotions and this very thing was woven through the fabric of his legacy.
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
My salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress. I will never be shaken.
Yes, my soul finds rest in God;
My hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your hearts to Him,
For God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:11-12, 5-6, 8
Oh, my thirsty soul was quenched remembering these words as I vainly tried to reel in my line. Still smelling a dead animal too near for real comfort. Listening to my kids argue. Thinking about the money I spent. Hoping my new friend from Germany was not aware that I was on the verge of a panic attack. Hoping no one noticed the deep breathing exercise I was using to pull myself out of the funk. These words, written so very long ago by a man running for his life, were the anchor I needed. These words stilled me. A mighty fortress. And here I was, out in the wilderness of my thoughts, running from an enemy that is always hunting me down. Run to the fortress.
I’m finally there. I woke up at three fifty-seven this morning and finally felt safe enough to cry. Finally felt held while I poured out my heart. Finally felt the loving arms of my Father, holding me together while I came apart in his arms. Because life isn’t always easy. It isn’t always happiness. And it’s not because we don’t have enough faith or favor. It’s because we have an enemy who is always seeking to devour us. It’s a vast wilderness out there and we are never safe from the thicket or the snare until we are safely inside the fortress that is our God. But most of us don’t abide well. And sometimes, God allows us to wander so we know the value of resting in Him.
Let me take the fake Christian, I’ve-Got-It-All-Together mask off and admit that sometimes, life just falls apart. I just fall apart. I can’t always handle “life.” Things are not perfect. In fact, sometimes, they aren’t even good. It doesn’t mean I’m faithless. Or that I don’t know what the Bible says. I have memorized so much of the Word, I could quote much of it blindfolded. But in the midst of the battle, it’s easy to forget all that we know and have experienced. The devil is prolific at what he does. And when he brings war to our door, we have no other recourse but to run to our fortress.
Run to the fortress. Dear friend, whatever is binding you, run to the fortress. Whatever is chasing you, run to the fortress. Whatever war Satan is coming against you with, run to the fortress. Only in God will you find safety and protection. Only in His arms will you find rest and peace. Only in Him will you have victory over your enemy. Run.
With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. -Psalm 60:12