by Bill Gaultiere

“But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.” (Psalm 94:22, NIV)

One year when I was a boy a bad tornado was approaching our home in suburban Chicago. I was watching the weather reports on television with my parents and younger sisters. This was something we were used to doing in the spring or summer.

But I realized that this time was different when my Dad suddenly exclaimed, “We’re going down to the basement for shelter. Quick! Everyone open up a window and grab a flashlight!”

Each of my parents picked up one of my baby twin brothers and we all made our way downstairs into the basement.
It was scary and exciting at the same time. All seven of us huddled together in the basement, listening to radio reports on the tornado. I asked my dad what would happen if the tornado hit our house and he reassured me, “It probably won’t hit our house, but if it did we’d be safe down here.”

My mom piped in, “It won’t hit our house! In Jesus’ name it won’t hit our house! I’m praying!”

The tornado actually touched down near our house, but it didn’t do any damage. We were safe in the basement!

Building Forts in the Basement

After that the basement took on greater meaning to me. I loved to go down there. On a hot day it was cool and damp. On a day when I was bored it was full of old treasures in boxes to explore. If my sisters and their friends were bothering me I could go down there where it was quiet to be alone.

But my favorite thing to do when I was a boy was to make forts. I recruited my sisters to join me in this. I got to be the building superintendent, telling them what to do to erect our fort! We used whatever we could find in the basement. We’d find pieces of wood, old chairs, and big boxes for the walls. Then we used bed sheets and towels for the roof.

We were safe in our fort. Safe from the tornado. Safe from “bad guys,” including the communists. (In those days we were afraid that armies from Russia might invade America and try to take us over.)

We’d play in our fort too. I’d bring my GI Joe’s and my sisters would bring their Barbies. But the funnest part was improving on our forts — making them bigger and adding special rooms. One time our mom even let us bring all the high back dining room chairs into the basement! It was the best fort ever!

The Lord is our Fort

David, the Psalmist, knew all about finding refuge in forts. His forts were the thousands of caves throughout the wilderness of Israel (see Psalms 57 and 142). Many times he found a cave to hide in when enemies were trying to kill him. He wasn’t just hiding in a cave — he was hiding in the Lord!

“The Lord is our fort” is a good way of wording a frequent prayer of the Psalmist. Ninety times he refers to the Lord as his fortress (or similar words used to refer to the same idea: refuge, shelter, rock, or hiding place.) Nine times he speaks of finding safety “under the wing” of the Lord or “in his shadow.” That’s almost 100 times out of 150 Psalms that the Psalmist speaks of finding refuge in the Lord.

That’s what my sisters and I were doing in the basement: finding refuge in the Lord who answered my mom’s prayers and kept us safe from the tornado.

The best thing about this fort is that is that we don’t need to go down to the basement and build it. We don’t need to wait until we get to heaven. Wherever we are, no matter what problems we face or what hardships may befall us, even if we’re injured or dying, we can be in “the secret place” of prayer with Jesus and the Father, finding refuge in the Lord and his Kingdom of the Heavens in our midst (Psalm 91:1; Matthew 4:17, 6:4, 6, 18).


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