He hems me in

hot chocolate

Who else loves those conversations you don’t expect to have? Today I spent two hours with a friend. Kate and I have known each other for twenty-something years, but we’ve never really sat – just the two of us – and chatted. The hot chocolate was superb, as were the hot chips that followed.

But what was even better was the conversation. The conversation that went deep. Beyond the discussion of our kids. Beyond the discussion of our husbands. Beyond the discussion of our jobs.

We talked about the desert.

If you’ve been a Christian long enough you’ve heard the stories of the Israelites who traveled the desert for forty years, even though theologians believe they could have actually traversed one side to the other in a matter of days. They got stuck going around and around and around in circles. And while they circled their wagons, they complained. Bitterly. About everything.

They had no water. They were starving. God had stopped speaking to them. They were sick and tired of eating manna (they missed meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic). They had been left to die.

Last Sunday at church the pastor who spoke said this: “Don’t let the desert define you.”

At the time I thought that was a nice cool quote and I Facebook’d it, Tweeted it and made a little note on my phone, but all week the phrase kept playing on repeat in my mind.

Don’t let the desert define you.

And just like that I realized I was back in the desert.

Hang on, What??? I’ve been there and I didn’t like it, SO WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING BACK HERE AGAIN?

Kate encouraged me to read Isaiah 58, which I did, as soon as I went home, found my Bible and brushed off the dust. This is what I read.

Isaiah 58.11

I put down my Bible and I prayed:

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

(Psalm 139)

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8 thoughts on “He hems me in

  1. I needed this! Thank you for sharing. I have missed your posts. I am also a nurse in the U.S. I have fibromyalgia and have started a blog on WordPress called God-Living with Chronic Illness because I could find nothing to encourage the spirit in my own journey. Glad to have you as a wordpress friend.

    Laurie

  2. Nicki! I’ve missed your blogs; so glad you wrote a new one!

    I always viewed my desert days as those times of long-lasting struggles, arid times when God’s guidance seems absent and I’m trying to discern His will. Your point is a good one ~~ how do I handle those desert days? Do I spend them whining, complaining, feeling resentful and bitter? Or do I use those stretches of life as a chance to open my eyes to the blessings God continues to shower on me, to see that He hems me in, and lays His hand upon me? I know which I’d like to think I do.

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