Build a fortress of peace. I heard these words in my spirit this morning. I immediately thought of the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds. The word ‘guard’ comes from the Greek word phroureō, which gives the idea of a military garrison. These words have been a source of life to me now for decades. Don’t worry, pray about everything, then the peace of God will come to you. Through all sorts of difficult life circumstances, these words have been a lighthouse for my soul.
So I was surprised to hear this direction, build a fortress of peace. I thought I was already doing that. But as I contemplated the words, this is the picture that came to me. My fortress has been a temporary one that I have to build again and again for every circumstance. But a garrison should be a permanent installation. Once it’s built, you don’t have to build it again every time the enemy makes an incursion against you. Can you imagine it, a military compound where the fortifications only last long enough to get through one skirmish at a time? It’s ludicrous, isn’t it. Can you feel the fear and anxiety of the inhabitants? The terror, even? Can you see the frantic scrabbling to get prepared to meet the enemy? Now let your mind’s eye see a mighty fortress, big strong walls with a solid gate, armament apertures filled with heavy duty weapons that will make short work of an enemy attack. Can you feel the difference? Here there’s only the call to arms, and the quiet but determined answer. Here there’s no panic, no scrabbling for equipment. The inhabitants of the fortress are ready almost instantly, ready to protect and preserve. It’s a compelling picture.
So how will I go about building my fortress of peace, so that it becomes a permanent spiritual structure? The instructions, I believe, are the same as they have always been: Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every circumstance through prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. But as I think about making the peace walls permanent, I begin to see that what I allow inside my structure is just as important as building the walls. There are all kinds of things that will destroy my peace from the inside out; hate, judgment and unforgiveness, to name a few. These are the forces, the “weapons” from within, that will continually undo the building, and if left unchecked, will ultimately destroy the walls of my fortress. What a sobering thought. It impels me to make changes; this is not what I want, to have to re-build all the time. I see that I must be on guard continually so that the enemies of my soul are not allowed residence within my borders. Help me, Spirit of God, sustain me, as I repel the enemy; counsel me and lead me in the way everlasting.
Here and now, in this moment, you have no other place to be. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. See the picture of your walls of peace. Thank God for the beautiful fortress of peace. Open the gate and sweep out worry and anxiety, sweep out unforgiveness and hate. Think of the peace of God filling every nook and cranny. Rest and be glad, calm and secure in the safety of peace.