Psalm 91:2 "I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust."
Every October 31st most Lutherans, along with a large share of Christendom, lift their voices in the singing of the battle hymn of the Reformation: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” When Martin Luther first wrote those words in 1529 the concept of a stone fortress high up on a hill made sense. However, modern inventions of war like gunpowder, bombs and cruise missiles, have made the concept of a fortress all but obsolete. Even so, most people like to sing the song. Most people like to have a place where they can feel secure. Even the multi-talented Superman likes to get away from it all in his Fortress of Solitude.
To create a fortress of safety and solitude appears to have been the motivation for a man in Buffalo, New York. While investigating a fire recently, James O’Neill, a member of the Buffalo, New York fire marshal’s office, came across a man who has been living underground for the last six years. O’Neill, in order to protect the man’s privacy, declined to give the individual’s name, or the location of his 16 x 20 foot underground fortress.
On the other hand O’Neill did supply a number of details for the curious. For example, we know it took the man two years to dig his place of refuge. Readers of last week’s Associated Press article have been told the walls of the dwelling are covered with minimal-maintenance insulation and plastic tarp, while the ceiling of the home is composed of wood and roofing material. The resident of this underground fortress sleeps on a foam bed, uses car batteries to light his quarters, and cooks his meals in a hot pot. I can’t tell you if he has a phone, running water, gets mail or pays taxes.
Are you wondering, “Why?” The man speaking from his cave-like home offers an explanation. He says his diggings are a ‘peaceful and tranquil place to live.’ He has found his fortress, at least for the present.
While most people might not go to the extreme of digging an underground refuge, much of the world is involved in a desperate search for some person or place where they can feel safe and secure from the sin, madness, and nastiness of life. As Christians we rejoice that, in Jesus, we have found our Fortress. As the Savior’s blood-bought people we know that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, you are our mighty Fortress. By our own might and power we would soon have been defeated by sin, death and devil. Yet in your love and by your Redemption we have forgiveness of sins and salvation. Dear Redeemer and refuge, accept our thanks and praise. In your name, Amen.