By Debbonnaire Kovacs, Jan 27, 2016

Psalm 71:1-6 is the psalm passage for this week. I love this passage, especially verse 3: “Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; you are my crag and my stronghold.” Many years ago, now, I had learned at a writers’ conference that in today’s market, a writer needs a brand, a logo, some kind of sound bite and/or image that will (she hopes) become connected with her name.

My friend Brandilyn Collins, who writes Christian suspense, was using “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e,” though now I see she has “Seatbelt Suspense.” But I write all kinds of things—fiction, nonfiction, devotional material, educational material, short pieces, children’s stories, novels for adults. How could I possibly find one theme or logo or whatever?

As I considered and prayed over the course of months, I began to realize that there is an overarching theme, not just in my writing, but in my life as a whole; forgiveness and reconciliation, in some form, make an appearance in nearly everything I write, whether spiritual or not.

In part, these things are so important to me because of a need to feel safe. I’ve never understood the desire for revenge, or reluctance to “allow” salvation to reach someone you’re angry with. I read a book in which the villain, a man who had driven drunk and killed a child, was brought to God by one of the advocates who worked with him. The mother of the child, a Christian, was consumed by rage at the thought of having to share heaven with this man.

Privately, I wondered why she thought she would be there!

At a conference on Adventist-Muslim relations, the speaker told of an Adventist woman who had met him at the back of the auditorium and said, “If you don’t tell them the gospel, they won’t be saved, right? So don’t tell them!” Quite aside from questionable theology, I was shocked to the core, and again wondered if she’d like heaven all that much.

And yes, I was being judgmental, too!

To me, even from childhood, it’s always seemed that if you could just get the other person to make up and be friends, you would then be safe.

Safe. It was a Thing to me. It’s still a Thing to me.

And so it was that I ended up using the castle as my visual theme for my website and other interfaces with readers and hearers. I see this castle in two ways: the Strong Tower of the Lord in this and other passages, which is always and ever perfectly safe (though, as Jesus pointed out, “not as the world gives,” and it sometimes doesn’t look safe to me!), and as the messy, labyrinthine, half-unexplored hodgepodge that is an individual human life. And this one is not so safe.

There are breaches in every one of our souls. We carry breaches between ourselves and God, between ourselves and others, and even between ourselves and our own deeper, truer selves. When I stumbled across Isaiah 58:12: “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell,” I knew I had found my calling. I would use “Repairing the Breach” as my logo. I would seek, under God, to heal breaches. To mend walls, and fences, and oil the hinges of doors and gates. I would seek to keep clearly in mind that my messy little castle is not as big as it seems to me, but is enclosed safely in God’s bailey, walled by God’s protection, guarded by angels, and mended and opened up to wandering beggars like the one at the gates in the Vision of Sir Launfal, by James Russell Lowell.

Oddly, it was only after making that decision that I realized God had been using this imagery with me for a very long time. You can read more about that here.

How is your castle? Are the breaches closing? Does the flag of love fly high, showing that “the King is in residence here”?