Most of my kids were afraid of dogs as toddlers. Erikka was especially terrified by big barkers, and she would run to me for cover. But on Daddy’s shoulders, she said in happy tone, “Hi, Doggy.” Moms and dads are often safe places for children; so is God. David wrote, “I love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge…my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:1,2).
THE WAY TO BONDAGE
Unfortunately, we don’t always go to our Father. We find other hiding places. At first, they seem to be safe. Eventually, the “refuge” becomes a stronghold that imprisons us, and this is the way St. Paul uses the term “stronghold” (2 Cor. 10:4).
David went on to write, “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help” (6). What if he had chosen a stronghold other than God? He might have been captured or killed. And David knew why God protected him: “He delivered me, because he delighted in me” (18). He embraced the truth, and the truth set him free. Clinging to lies robs us of freedom. They bring us into strongholds that look like safe places but are really prisons.
A STRONGHOLD IS…
.something I run to instead of God. It is what I turn to when weak or in pain, a God-substitute, something I trust in for help. Anna learned to run to food. Others may run to religion, sleep or alcohol.
.a lie I continue to believe. Because I am vulnerable, I don’t realize that I am embracing a lie. It worked once, so I continue to try it.
.something I don’t like talking about. It shames and embarrasses me, so I hide. A stronghold makes me feel like a powerless wimp.
.a secret, and sometimes I don’t even know the secret. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…” (I John 1:8).
.part of my identity. “I am a worry-wart.” “I am angry with life because of what my father did.” “I am the divorced person who is not loved.”
.a prison that is difficult to get out of. At first the stronghold seems like a safe place to hide from pain.
.a terrible place to run to. It enslaves me, robbing me of peace, joy, and freedom.
.a habit pattern of thinking that affects behavior. The way I think is the way I live.
EXAMPLES OF STRONGHOLDS (and the destructive lies that can accompany them)
Perfectionism (I’ll be okay if I do everything right. Then I will have earned my points).
Anger (People make me upset. I have a right to get mad).
Self-pity (No one understands me; no one appreciates me).
Lust (I need a high right now, a moment of harmless pleasure).
Work (I am valuable because I am a hard worker).
Religion (I am a devout person. I have value to God because I go to church and serve others).
Sickness (Now people will care about me and feel sorry for me. See John 5:1-15).
Rejection (People always reject me. They don’t think I am worth anything, so I’ll reject them).
(Part 2 next. For full message: firstname.lastname@example.org.)