An afterword from Janell’s first book, “Rock-Solid Families: Transforming an Ordinary Home into a Fortress of Faith”. Order your copy today!
“But the LORD has become my fortress,
and my God the rock in whom I take refuge (Psalm 94: 22).”
After a long drive through the picturesque countryside of Scotland, my friends and I exited the car. As I made my way over seats and out the door, I looked up to see one of the most awe-inspiring feats of architecture—Stirling Castle. Stirling Castle, built centuries ago, stirred my spirit. It took my breath away. Being surrounded by such a strong sense of history was astounding. I ambled down stone pathways that wound through long, dark corridors and expansive great rooms, all the while spiraling upwards to the castle’s highest point. From this vantage point, the naked eye could see for miles and miles. Walking on ancient pathways fortified my faith and infused a renewed impetus to “be strong and very courageous” (see Joshua 1:8).
“This must be how Joshua felt,” I thought. “Invigorated. Renewed. Humble.”
I found a quiet spot of verdant grass and was silent before God. Here, amidst the austere physical presence of a living fortress, I recited Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” and remembered Psalm 94:22, “But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.”
God has become my fortress. And I emphasize become. This intransitive verb, in its truest form, means “to change or develop into something.” True spirituality can be encapsulated in this one word, becoming. The apostle Paul knew this well. In Philippians 3: 8-12, he helps us see it more clearly:
”What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
Like Paul, I want to become like Christ. I want to “press on and take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” I know this is your desire as well. Right now, Christ Jesus is taking hold of you. For just a moment, consider in your mind’s eye an ancient ruin. What picture first comes to mind? I see black smoldering wood, lying in a heap; a once strong city encompassed by brokenness.
“What a mess. No use. Let it lie,” we might say.
It takes incredible vision to see anything of value in that heap of smoldering wood. It would take commitment and a strong sense of purpose to search for lost riches and make a decision to rebuild. Rebuilding requires tenacity, an iron will and strong support from a loving community of people. In many families, sin can be passed on for generations—personhoods destroyed time and time again, lost to abuse, alcoholism, rejection, drug use, mental illness, abandonment, perfectionism, critical communication and cynicism, and so on. The list could go on and on. Someone must come in with a renewed impetus to change family history and rebuild. Someone must pull back the curtain of reality and glimpse into the spiritual realm.
I made that decision years ago. I hated my alcoholic father for so many years; allowing this pain to rob me of God’s abundant life, promised in John 10:10. Basically, I couldn’t live any longer in such a state. I was an ancient ruin. A smoldering heap of emotional chaos. With no where to turn, I fell on my face before God and asked Him for the ability to rebuild my broken life and family. It was time.
I asked myself the same question I am asking you now, “Do you want to rebuild? Do you want to transform your ordinary life and family into a fortress of faith?” I answered, “Yes, Lord. I have no clue how to do this, but I know You do. You are the Great Rebuilder. Teach me, brick-by-brick, how to build the fortress of faith.” The only thing I knew was chaos. Chaos was comfortable, instability stable. The cry of my heart was to be “steadfast and unmovable.” Matthew Henry writes, “God rebuilds. An unsanctified soul is like a city that is broken down and has no walls, like a house in ruins; but by the power of Christ’s gospel and grace it is repaired, it is put in order again, and fitted to be a habitation of God through the Spirit. And they shall do this that are released out of captivity; for we are brought out of the house of bondage that we may serve God, both in building up ourselves to his glory and in helping to build up his church on earth.”
Dear friend, God wants to help you rebuild—now. Right now. I pray my story helps you build your story. Your house will look different than mine. It is supposed to. Your family is divinely distinct. Divinely different than any other family on the face of the earth. You are on the threshold of greatness. Let the building begin!
In closing, would you pray with me?
Lord of New Life,Today, I want to begin rebuilding my broken life.I want to begin transforming my ordinary home into a fortress of faith. I cannot do this without the enabling of Your Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit, fill me with strength, passion and stability. Come, fill me with vigor and courage. I will come sit at Your feet and seek Your plan of action—daily. Brick by brick, I will rebuild.Send laborers to help me, to encourage me, and to lift my hands when they weary.To You be all the glory. Amen.