A Strong Hold…
Since mankind formed into communities millennia ago, there have been efforts to protect our citizenry by building fortresses and walls. There is nothing wrong in this. We build walls to keep the elements out, as we put locks on our doors to protect our families and belongings from those who seek to harm or take away. Such measures provide protection and peace of mind, especially when we are most vulnerable, at rest. Nevertheless, engineering and history has taught us that no fortress built by the hand of man is unbreachable. There is no lock that cannot be picked. True and eternal security can only be found in the Lord.
Like most homes in California, mine is surrounded by fences with gates. At night when we are sleeping we feel comfort behind secured windows and doors. We have taken various measures to provide this relative security, and for the most part we have been confident that our home and family are safe. However, some years ago, while we were in a construction period, there was a gap in that security. On a quiet autumn evening, when all of our children had gone to bed, Monica and I observed a strange man looking at us through our glass window. It startled us, and thankfully we startled him. Friendly local police officers came and made sure that no predators were lingering about, so we could have a good night’s sleep.
We went right to work on securing the breach in our fence, but before we were able to complete the job one of our children’s bicycles were stolen. I know for our daughter, as for Monica and I, that was a violating feeling. To have someone peering at us through our windows, and have a young girl’s bicycle stolen, was unsettling. The fences were fixed, the bicycle replaced, but we can never fool ourselves into thinking that there is any measure that we can take that will virtually guarantee our physical safety or the security of our belongings.
Every fortress, collection of walls, or castle, built throughout the history of humankind, has eventually been breached, toppled or taken, by nature’s fury or man’s greed. There is no wall high enough, nor lock sufficiently secure, that someone or something cannot prevail against it. Where people may lack at times the ingenuity to prevail against walls or locks, rust and weather corrupts still, the mighty forces of nature, the power to make the works of man’s hands wholly fallible. Even civilizations built on the strongest of foundations have fallen to siege from without, villainy from within, and plagues, earthquakes, volcanoes, or climactic changes that cannot be subdued.
But there is comfort found in the security of knowing that our earthly sojourn, seemingly so long lived, is not the end of days for the children of God. For us, in Christ, eternity awaits with peace and warmth, in the comforting arms of our Father. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “Faith means trusting God in good times and bad, even if that includes some suffering until we see His arm revealed in our behalf” (General Conference, October 2020). His arms are like fortress walls made without hands. They cannot be breached, can weather any storm, and provide love in community.
We only need to place our trust and faith in the Lord, throughout our trials and tribulations, for His peace is a treasure in heaven that moth or rust cannot corrupt. He knows His children and will provide lasting safety for all who but follow Him. “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).
As emphasized in the words of a hymn attributed to Martin Luther (1483–1546), God’s strength to protect is never failing, overcoming all that would threaten to prevail against repentant followers of the Savior, and overcoming death itself for everyone:
A mighty fortress is our God,
A tower of strength ne’er failing.
A helper mighty is our God,
O’er ills of life prevailing.
He overcometh all.
He saveth from the Fall.
His might and pow’r are great.
He all things did create.
And He shall reign for evermore.
There is a fortress in which we can have confidence, a strong hold not built of stone nor steel, but by the very authority, power and love of the Almighty God, for He is our rock and our salvation. As the Psalmist wrote, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies” (Psalm 18:1-3).
May we be safe in our homes, our schools, our places of worship, and in our efforts to support ourselves and our families, as on our highways and byways. And when we are not feeling so secure, as when friend has become foe, or when the strength of our walls have been compromised, may we look for lasting safety in our Lord. Let us find eternal peace and security in the fortress which is our Savior, a strong hold that will never fail, a place where the children of God may find sweet rest. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.