Monday, August 3, 2015

The Castle Keep

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, say this: “God, you’re my refuge.  I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.  Psalm 91:1-4a
In all the old castles of England there used to be a place called the keep. It was always the strongest and best protected place in the castle, and in it were hidden all who were weak and helpless and unable to defend themselves in times of danger.  We can hide ourselves in the keeping power of our Divine Keeper, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, and who has promised to preserve our going out and our coming in, from this time forth and even forever more.

The qualification for entrance was simply and only need and weakness. How foolish then it would have been for any to have made their weakness the reason for remaining outside!  And yet how continually is this done toward the Lord’s keep. If ever your feet are to touch the “rock beneath,” you must let go of every holding-place and drop into God; for there is no other way. And to do it now may save you months and even years of strain and weariness. - Hannah Whitall Smith

I have just recently learned about the castle keeps in the castles of long ago.  The castle keep was usually the central tower located within a castle. Basically it was a castle within a castle and it was traditionally used as a final defensive structure. The castle keep was the strongest and securest part of a castle. There were also living quarters in some castle keeps.  The living quarters would traditionally be at the top, above the hall and the storage rooms at the bottom. One of the most famous Norman Keeps in the world is the White Tower at the Tower of London, built by William The Conqueror shortly after his victory at the Battle of Hastings.  Often during battles, the castle keep would house the weak and defenseless who could not help themselves. 

This is so often how I feel.  I feel weak and helpless, like I cannot face the battles before me, therefore I wish I had my very own castle keep in which to hide away. I wouldn’t just stay there for the big battles, I would reside there, hiding away from every little battle and skirmish and rift along the way.  I am quite sure there are days I wouldn’t even stick my head out of the door. There are times when life feels so much like a battle that every little thing is a ding and the really big things take a whole chunk out of my spirit and I just want to hide away and not face it as long as I can.   

I have to say it is just the place I have been looking for my whole life.  Who doesn’t long for safety and security in their life? A safe place, with the greatest defender of all time standing guard at the door?  Jesus is the Divine Keeper.  He is our shield and protector. We can retreat into his arms and know that He is fighting for us.  He protects us so many times that we are even unaware of.  He is our very own castle keep, the defender of the weak and comforter of those in need. 

On the other hand, I think God does not want us to retreat quickly from every battle that comes our way. There are battles He wants us to fight because they make us stronger.  They are part of a greater plan and help shape us into the people God created us to become.  He goes before us and behind us in battle and carries us all the way through.  He promised in Isaiah 41:13 For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.’ He will give us the strength but in any battle there may be a point we can’t fight anymore.  What a peace it brings to know that I can retreat and hand the sword over to Him and He will fight for me, while I rest safe and secure in Him.

Scripture to Claim:
The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.  Deuteronomy 31:8

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