The Keep

THE KEEP
by Lyn Mims LaVigne
08/24/2017

In days of yore, any king worthy of the trust of his subjects provided a castle for their protection during times of danger. Walls were high and thick, and strong double-gates and a gatehouse were accessed by means of a massive wooden draw-bridge across a deep moat.

Knights were the next line of defense. To acquire that status, a formal ceremony required ritual baths and prayers at the church. Afterward, they knelt in submission, gave oath before the king or priest and were tapped by sword on their shoulders to designate their new status. New titles of “Sir” were proclaimed and in a single day, their lives changed forever. Each knight would be issued a sword, glove, armor, land and a horse and his job title would be defender of God, church and king.

The above mentioned are well-known historical defenses but there is another lessor-known defense called “the keep” constructed within the castle proper or in the gatehouse on a defensible upper level. Architecturally, they were often square with walls eight to ten feet thick. Any ladders to upper windows could be pulled upward to prevent entry. It was a safe house into which the royal family could flee during a siege. The king’s subjects fled inside the castle’s walls but the “keep’ was for the royalty.

As I considered the castle and its defenses, a message emerged regarding how we should also have a “keep” prepared to guard our hearts. A castle was purposefully designed to protect its occupants in times of trouble. God provides us protection to keep us safe but do we take as much effort to build a strong wall around our thoughts and hearts as a king builds around his castle? Are there “keeps” in our castles? If we are temples of the Holy Spirit, why are we not guarding it carefully? Are we providing Him with a sacred place? Are our walls in ruins and the bars of the gates neglected? If so, there is no protection for any of us. Our thoughts motivate and mold us into what we become in the future. Thus, what are we becoming? What is our future? We are becoming whatever we are thinking!

The “keep” is our refuge during times of spiritual warfare and a secure place where you meet with God alone. How long has it been since that room was purified? How long has it been since you really sat in His presence? Have you made preparations for immediate occupancy during times of trouble? Confusion and deception are everywhere but they are not welcome in the “keep.”

God’s plan is to prepare us spiritually for battle. Like the knights, we must bathe in the Word, fast and pray. Then, of necessity, we put on the whole armor and vow allegiance to God as King! He, in turn, equips us with armaments to fight and win battles to defend our designated territory. Remember, the major territories are our hearts and minds! Guard them like your life depends upon it because it truly does!

You are the armored knight who guards the gate as to what you hear, what you watch, your daily activities and those with whom friendships develop! You are posted as a sentry! If you leave a spiritual door open, your enemy can enter and burn your castle. Guarding yourself in regards to relationships sounds trivial to some, and you may ask: “But shouldn’t I always be available and helpful to all people?” Well, my answer is “No.” Your assignment may not be to all people! Please, always have compassion. Be kind. Love people. But God does not require you to let down your guard if it leaves your walls in ruins and the gates burned. Look at Judah’s history and see the chaos that occurred when her boundaries were removed. Babylonians murdered and/or seized the people, destroyed their Temple and burned everything with fire in c. 597 B.C. They, lacking protection, became slaves to a foreign power.

Even God has boundaries. Scripture states as follows: “When the Most High gave nations as their inheritance, when he separated the human race he set boundaries for the people according to the number of the children of God.” We also find this scripture regarding walls: “And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls . . .”

Why, historically, are walls so important? They are significant for the same reasons they have always been and that is to separate people from people: 1.) the righteous from the unrighteous, 2.) a defense against battle and 3.) a means of designating ownership. This, in turn, provides a place of peace and rest. People constantly exposed to enemies cannot live in peace!

There was a day the Holy Spirit spoke to me in a voice that seemed to have been almost audible: “Guard your heart!” And not paying attention to Him as I should have been, loudly He said “I am trying to protect you!” Little did I know that there was an attack coming but those were busy days of transition that turned into weeks and I failed to acknowledge His war memo. What I thought was my strong spiritual tower soon lay in ruinous heaps! I should have quickly gone before the Lord and sought His face but I was too busy.

Not realizing that I would soon be mired in a dangerous situation, I took no defensive action and naively went on my way. My armor and sword hung at rest and I was not arrayed for battle. My place should have been in the “keep” dressed and armed but I did not go there to God for instructions. The results were tears, sorrow, and grief. Depression followed. I could not focus enough to pray and attempting to read scriptures proved futile. All that remained was numbing quiet. I soon learned it was not a requirement for me to remain there but to repent and go on with God.

Retreating into the “keep” meant I could have obtained battle plans, sharpened my sword and dressed in armor before the attack came. When there are no set boundaries, safety cannot be guaranteed. Guarding yourself maintains heart and mind. And yes, it does matter who you associate with and the things you watch and read!

Paraphrasing here, there was an old farmer who once said: “Do not remove fences until you know why they were put up in the first place.” Established boundaries are necessary and it is alright with Father God if you make them! Never remove what He established in order to protect you! When the Holy Spirit speaks, stop and listen immediately. Whatever else you are doing can wait.

Guarding our minds and hearts allows the issues of life to freely flow. King Solomon, in speaking to his son, states the following: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.” Through the heart life flows to all parts of the body. But if the flow gets blocked, death follows. Solomon was not just making a suggestion to his son! It was his admonition for his ultimate survival and also for our lives.

 

NOTES:

1. “The Knighting Ceremony,” history.howstuffworks.com, accessed 11 August 2017.

2. www.castles-of-Britain.com, accessed 11 August 2017.

3. “What Does It Mean To Guard Your Heart?”, got questions.org, accessed 18 August 2017.

4. Nehemiah 52:1-34 (KJV).

5. Deuteronomy 32:8 (KJV).

6. Isaiah 60:10 (KJV)

7. Anonymous.

8. Proverbs 4:23 (KJV).