“Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe.”Psalm 31:2
A bastion is a place of relative safety, a defensible, protected forward position (PB/FOB) in a theatre of war. It’s the place you return to after a patrol for a replen of food, water and rest – a place where you can, in Camp Bastion at least, order a pizza, go to the gym or call home, relax a little and let your guard down while others stand sentry.
If you’ve been out on patrol, you will know how it feels to be exposed to the elements, vulnerable to enemy fire and on constant high alert; it’s exhausting, and there’s nothing better than the relief you feel when you arrive back at the PB/FOB. In a previous post ‘Enemy Tactics’ I suggested that we are all taking part in a spiritual war – life can be a constant internal battle. We know this to be true, because life is full of stresses, challenges, insecurities and difficulties that seem to try and bring us down all the time. Seeking respite in a bastion of safety and rest is essential if we are going to be fit and able to fight another day.
Most of us have these ‘bastions’ to retreat to, and they will be different for each of us: perhaps to the family home and leaning on those close to us; perhaps to a club or a hobby, reading, binge watching our favourite box-set or some Call of Duty to escape in for a while; perhaps to the gym, to the hills or a good night out; perhaps to religion, meditation or a quiet smoke and space to get things straight in your head. There are many types of coping strategies, and also some negative and destructive ones, like drink, drugs, fighting or even sexual liaisons. Some struggle to find a way of decompressing at all and for those it’s very hard indeed and they are often in serious need of help and sometimes become unable to get back in the fight at all (see Buddy-Buddy).
As for the Christian, we have a place of refuge like no other – we have the very presence of God. The Bible describes it as a fortress, a strong tower, a refuge, a secret place – a place of safety, refreshment and recuperation.
“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the [secret place] of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence [besieged city], far from accusing tongues.”Psalm 31:19-20
When we know and hope in the Lord, and see the world from a Biblical point of view, we are able to put all of life’s woes, and it’s joys, in perspective. Without a ‘pit stop’ into Gods presence, time in His ‘bastion’, and in His comforting Word (the Bible), I wouldn’t know how to deal with all of life’s challenges (in a strange way, it’s like returning to the womb, where, briefly, you can feel safe and protected from the outside world).
Another name, appropriately, is a ‘besieged city’ (think Al Amarah and Sangin), which describes very well how it can feel to be protected and safe for a bit, while under constant bombardment from the stresses and strains which can make life hard. By all means turn to the people and coping strategies with which we are gifted in this life (avoiding the destructive kinds), but also consider turning to the very source of all life Himself and shelter in the protection of His presence* and there receive refreshing and recuperation and the strength to fight on another day.
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.”Psalm 18:2-3
If you want to know more about how to find refuge in God, or just maybe want to chat about things you are finding difficult to cope with, please hit me up at:
* Gods presence, in the biblical sense, is not a disembodied meditative state where one empties the mind – but actually the opposite where we draw upon God, through His word, to fill ourselves with knowledge, wisdom and understanding which becomes practically, spiritually and emotionally helpful in some way.