Raising three boys was a joy. A joy not without its challenges but still a joy. One of those challenges was finding a reliable, good trustworthy babysitter for those all too few occasions when my wife and I wanted to relish time alone. We were blessed with and by Pam. She was that rare combination of fun and firmness. Fun enough that the boys loved her (they still do) yet firm enough to keep them in check and enforce the rules.
In that vein, when Pam put the boys in bed she was sure to play a game of tucking the top sheets firmly under the sides of the mattress to help hold the boys in place. They enjoyed the game and challenge but also heard the message: “The sheets are tucked tightly around you so you don’t try to get up and become disobedient. If you become disobedient the fun stops. The bedsheets are hemming you in for your own good.”
The memory of that tactic reminds me that God is much like a babysitter. Recall the words of the Psalmist. “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” The New Living Translation puts it: “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” And the Good News Translation words it: “You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power.” God hems us in! God keeps in our place! God hems us in and keeps us in our place for our own good. He tightens the sheets around us to remind us to stay put with Him so He can protect us and bless us.
The next time…
- you’re not happy with life
- not happy where you are or not happy you can’t go where you want to go,
- not happy that you cannot do what you want to do,
- you feel like God’s not being fair because He’s not answering your prayers and giving you what you want
- you just wish God would just leave you alone
…spend some time wondering.
“What is God protecting me from?” “How is it God wants to bless me?” You may not come up with firm answers, but you will be reminded that God has your best interests at heart.
That’s the affirmation of the Psalmist: “Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding.” (Psalm 139:6 Good News Translation) Then he recognizes how valuable God’s hemming us in really is.
Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.(Psalm 139:7-12 The Message)
Oh the beauty of God’s presence! We are never alone, always protected, always blessed by His loving hands. I realize our boys never thought of the Psalmist as they were being hemmed in. I didn’t think of Him for a long time either. But now that I have, each bedtime can take on new meaning. Each night, as I nestle under my bedsheet, I can envision God tucking in my sheets, reminding me He will protect and bless me through the night. It gives new meaning to my version of the old child’s prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep while grateful, Lord, my soul you keep. Guide and guard me through the night and wake me when your time is right.”
Thanks, Pam, for the lessons and inspiration.