Blonde hair shining in the sun, my three year old asked me on a date this afternoon. Sandwiched between two parked cars, sitting astride his blue and yellow plastic tricycle, he turned expectantly. “Mom, bike a me?” (Mom, will you bike with me?) I grinned, and pulled out my towering two wheeler.
Pedaling barely enough to keep my bike upright, I followed him down the road on this last summery day. The hot 79 degree weather belied the amber trees and the crunchy dried leaves under our wheels.
Gleeful at being first, Daniel threw a glance over his shoulder and proudly pedaled on, leading the way. Suddenly a white windowless van barreled down the road towards us. Daniel, froze, looked at me, and waited to see what I would do. I angled my bike in front of his, hemming him in between me and the curb. “Go to the grass,” I directed. “Hold still.”
After the vehicle passed, he sped on, bravado back in place. Weaving across the road, Daniel was often unaware of curbs, and biker right of ways, and pedestrian sides of the road. I biked alongside him, my heart swelling with love for this little guy, while I kept a clear watch on oncoming traffic. Always aware of danger for him, I subtly angled him to the side of the road, staying on his outside rim. Several times, Daniel was blissfully unaware of approaching cars until they were right upon him.
“Hemming me in, behind and in front of me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too large to comprehend,” whispered my God in my ear, reminding me of some writing about Himself.
Hours later, in the cool night air, as I am leaving a work meeting, my car brakes wheeze out and malfunction. Thankfully, my speed was slow and nobody was hurt. Lost in a foreign neighborhood, I roll through the dark streets, weighing the options. I knock on a door, a sleepy Samaritan loans me his phone, and I make arrangements to be picked up on nearby crossroads. Sitting back on the grass in a dormant suburb next to a dead car, I wait and listen.
Distant traffic. Evening frogs and crickets orchestrate in the woods below. With surgical precision, the right side of the moon stares at me, bouncing back white light. Wind rustles the birch leaves above me. Two tall radio towers blink red, and I breathe deeply into the night air. Pneuma, breath. Isn’t that the Greek name for the Holy Spirit? His Spirit moves and wills as it blows. In the beginning, God’s spirit hovered over the waters, hovered over the deep, dark and formless, breathing life, rippling out onto the void.
The trees blow overhead and I inhale Breath. “Thank you, God.” I choose grace counting. I inhale again. I choose thankfulness. “Thank you for the night air, for the warmth of this last summery day. Thank you for protecting me – the brakes gave out here in a safe, sleepy, slow-speed suburb, not on a highway during rush hour. Thank you for a second vehicle that runs to come get me. Thank you for hemming me in, behind and before. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too large to comprehend.”
Late tonight, my toddler awakes crying, illogical and inconsolable. The bedside clock blinked red 1:45, then again at 2:30. By 3:07, I climb out of bed, pad to the computer and type. I choose grace counting, but not by default. As wakefulness creeps in, and the Spirit convicts me of discontented responses and complaint, I stop, restart, and choose grace counting. “Thank you for health. Thank you for normally undisturbed sleep. Thank you for this boy, and this chance to choose grace, to see you, to practice doxology.”
“How does that Psalm go? Where can I go from your Spirit? …If I go to the far side of the dawn (Very funny, God)… even there your hand will guide me… you hem me in behind and before. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too large to comprehend.” I’m close but not quite there, so I pull up Bible Gateway in my dark living room, as the family sleeps.
1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139: 1-10)
Hello, you. Thanks for stopping by just now. What has God been whispering to you?
How can I pray for you today? (By the way, do you know of any reliable used vehicles for sale?)
love that verse!! I read that often to remind that God is in control, not me.
Sorry about your car….what is up with your cars?? hahhaa =)
I love your analogy of the "Hemming in"! I do that same thing with my kids all the time and never really pondered that our Heavenly Father does just the same thing! As always – very poignant observations! 🙂 Love reading your blocks. And, good luck with the car thing! 🙁
God's been whispering, "Are you pushing all in, or are you picking up that pitiful collection of chips you've scratched and clawed for and going home?" How pathetic it is that even though giving all I have to God is as sure a bet as there ever was, I still hesitate…
I love these stories. And I love Psalm 139, that God hems me in. Some people might see that as confining; I see it as protection and security.
God is whispering to me lately to pay attention…
What a beautiful picture of how the Lord hems us in, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing the scripture passage, too — so soothing to my spirit this evening.
Good luck finding a car!
I love your analogies and application of this great verse to your life. And once again, I love your writing style. I'm sorry for your car troubles!
That is my favorite Psalm. I memorized it at one time and can still recite it.
I especially love the practical way that you bring grace into your life. It is something that God is having me focus right now, especially with my kids.