Wednesday, June 13, 2007


In my household, we’ve been doing some spring cleaning—digging through closets, washing up curtains, stirring up tons (or at least a few pounds) of dust. The works. It’s amazing what is found in the dark recesses of a house, like my castle pictured at the left.

This castle was my big fifth-grade project. I spent weeks and weeks laboring over it, drawing in arrow-loops, designing a one-of-a-kind moat, and building a working drawbridge. When I finished, I was so proud of my construction that I kept it around instead of tossing it like many other projects.

As you can see, though, storage hasn’t been kind to my construction-paper castle. My walls have fallen over, the turrets are toppled, and my impenetrable fortress is no longer so impenetrable. A far cry from the mortar and stone predecessors that survived hundreds of years before crumbling.

But are the castles I build in my own life any better? My life gets crazy with activities and complications, so I create walls of inflexible schedules. I fear failure and being unimportant; I build impressive towers to display the flags of achievement. People criticize and hurt me; I dig a moat of emotional distance and install a drawbridge that I may or may not lower if you prove worthy. After all, I am the master of my life, lord of my castle…right?

Then disaster strikes—that unexpected thing no one can control—and I discover my castle is not built of stone and mortar, but of paper and glue. My moat is torn, my walls flattened, my towers knocked over, and my defenses destroyed. I am reminded once more that there is only one impenetrable castle, only one refuge of safety…and I’m not master of it.

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe—
His craft and pow’r are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He—
Lord Sabaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

--Martin Luther, “A Might Fortress Is Our God”

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