The Fort of Refreshing
"Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort; thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress." (Psalm 71:3)
The exact circumstances of the memories have faded, but the security and comfort lasted years beyond the conversation. At some point in my childhood, a discussion with my mom over something distressing me at school, in our neighborhood, or with my peers led her to explain to me that our home was a fort. She encouraged me to remember that whatever battles I faced during the day, I just had to hold it together until I made it back to the fort where it was safe to cry, rest, and prepare to face the world again another day.
And it was true. Many times, it was all I could do to limp to our fort, but somehow, time spent within those walls was what I needed to recharge. My problems didn’t always go away whenever I walked out of the fort, but they seemed more manageable after being reminded of my worth and that I was loved and part of a family.
I’ve heard it said that the Gospel is our mother. Like our mother’s love, going to church to hear the Gospel message is a shelter for our souls and a place to rest from life’s battles. Church is not a museum displaying perfect works of art, but a hospital for the wounded. Growing up, many times I heard Brother Jess Carr say that he left his troubles on the doorstep before he walked into church each Sunday, and he would pick them back up again on his way out.
Easier said than done, right? At times, it’s hard to shed burdens before stepping into church and we limp in with them stubbornly clinging to our legs, dragging with each step. But, inadvertently, if we open ourselves up to all aspects of a worship service, from the singing to the testimonies of our fellow brothers and sisters and especially to the word of God preached, we allow God’s Spirit to sooth our own, wash over our wounds, and restore our joy. We become better equipped to handle whatever we carried in that troubled us.
Problems often do not go away on Monday morning after we’ve rested spiritually in church. But the reminders we’ve been given of our worth as a child of God and how much He loves us gives us the strength and hope we need to endure until our bad seasons end.
I may have shared this anecdote before, but, as a young mom, it was so easy to ease my kids’ injuries with a kiss and an Elmo Band-Aid. That was, until the day one of them told me, “Mommy, your kisses don’t work!” Gut punched over shattered innocence, it hit me that as a mere mortal mom, I couldn’t protect them from everything life throws at them.
If you think about it, the cure for a young child’s hurt doesn’t appear with mom’s kiss or the power of any Band-Aid. The cure happens as they learn where to turn for the source of comfort and in the mom’s ability to distract from the injury, taking the focus away from the wound, and divert the pain with ice or a Band-Aid and assurances of love, and knowing it will be OK in time.
Thinking again of the Gospel, do we sometimes outgrow the pure faith we once had in our mother, the church? That somehow the comfort we once found there no longer works? If so, pray and ask God to help you fight within yourself to see it again with childlike eyes of faith. Remember the power of the cure is in building trust in God as the ultimate source of comfort in our lives and the distraction from pain that spending time in church affords with assurances that we are loved, part of a spiritual family and it’s going to be OK in the end!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.