And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Relate: Here in the city of Gaziantep there is a deep rich history that extends back nearly six thousand years. Just a few blocks from where I have been staying there is a hill. On this hill there has been a fortification that has extended back to 3,600 BC. Some say it predates the Hittites, others claim it was them who first built it. Either way, that hill has housed a fortress for the Hittites, and later the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Seleucid Empire before the Romans took control of it. It was in the early years of the Eastern Roman Empire under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian that the fortress would come to look much the same as you can see above.
It was not any of this lengthy history for which the castle at Gaziantep is most famous for. It isn’t its mention by the crusaders or any event during the four hundred fifty years it was manned by the Ottoman Empire. No. It was after World War One when the Turks broke the Treaty of Sevres before the ink was even dry on the paper that this castle made its greatest mark on history. The French moved up north from Syria into Anatolia as part of an Allied attempt to enforce that treaty but a small garrison of Turks, outnumbered and outgunned, sent them packing.
React: Are there fortresses like this castle that seem to have a long and historic grip on my heart? What are the fortresses in my life that seem to be separating me from fully experiencing the love of God? Is there an emotional scar, a memory of something that we have done or that has been done to us that stands like a castle in our mind we believe can never crumble? Lets be reminded today that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, we could ever do that could ever make God love us less.
But sometimes for us to fully experience and embrace that love we need to lay siege to the castles in our heart that are standing against us. The French had both the manpower and the resources to eventually take the castle in Gaziantep. What they did not have was the willpower. They had just fought a long and bloody war that reshaped what the word war even meant and did so by devastating their homeland killing millions of young men and permanently scarring the minds and memories of an entire generation of Frenchmen. They were no longer willing to do what it took to win out against a small garrison in what they viewed as the back end of nowhere. Am I willing? Are you? What steps do we need to take to tear down the castles in our lives that we may come to more deeply understand the immeasurable depths of the love GOd has for us?
Thank You so much for Your love. So many times I feel that I have done or said something that would turn You away from me. There are also things in my past that make me feel as though I am unlovable. God, You are greater than any scars. Your blood is strong enough to wash any sins. Help me to realize that nothing can ever stand between me and Your love, it can only blur my perception of it. God come and occupy the castles of my heart. They all belong to You.