by Tammy Phillips
September 7, 2020
Be my strong refuge, To which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, For You [are] my rock and my fortress. – Psalm 71:3 NKJV
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. – Psalm 9:9 KJV
Memories of childhood flee. However, for as long as I can remember I have had a “fort” in my life. I remember being four or five. My cousin, Frank and I used to play fort in my Nanny and Pop’s front yard. He would go off hunting bears and I would pick beans from the mimosa tree and make “green beans” for supper. The fort was a place to resort and hide out. When I was older, nine or ten, I had a fort in the back yard. It was made of four pieces of plywood that wrapped around and were nailed to four perfectly placed trees that allowed a small gap for entrance. I secretly shaved my legs for the first time in that fort. I spent many hours in that refuge trying to escape the pain of my parent’s divorce, not understanding why they could not be reunited. Elvis Presley’s, “Separate Ways,” was my anthem that played on repeat in that retreat.
“Some day when she’s older, maybe she will understand
Why her mom and dad are not together
The tears that she will cry when I have to say goodbye
Will tear at my heart forever.”
In my twenties, my fort grew in size and shape. I took refuge off of Wolfskin Road in my Aunt Kay and Uncle Sherrill’s back yard which happened to be 57-acre, Lake Oglethorpe. I could easily make the 25- minute drive from the University of Georgia and hide out from the craziness of college life.
On May 8, 1987 my grandfather, my cousin and I went fishing on that lake. We took the boat to one of Pop’s favorite fishing spots. As soon as we arrived, after just a few casts, he said we needed to head home to Nanny. I was puzzled. When we got back to the house, he walked out on the porch and stretched his arms toward heaven. He came inside, sat down in his recliner and we watched him die of a massive heart attack. He was the third grandparent I had lost in less than a year. Lake Oglethorpe was my safe place, my fort where a 21-year old heart could heal.
All those years, I was trying to find rest, escape and heal. And, I did to some extent.
The “fort experience” was so important to me. I passed the art of fort building with blankets on to my boys. We used to build forts all over the house. Fun memories.
Fast forward, 30 years, my current hide out is my war room, our dining room. It is the space where I resort and feel safe. It is the place where I go to meet my Refuge. Now, different melodies recur in my fort; I sing songs of hope:
“The LORD [is] my Rock and my Fort and my Deliverer The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My Shield and the Horn of my Salvation, My Stronghold and my Refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so, shall I be saved from my enemies. (2 Samuel 22:2-4 NKJV)
God [is] our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 NKJV
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until [these] calamities have passed by. – Psalm 57:1 NKJV
I encourage you to resort to the Fort. “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my Refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a Refuge for us. Selah – Psalm 62:6-8 NKJV