When our third born was a much littler guy, he hated being held as much as he craved the safety of being in our arms. He would beg to be scooped up off of the ground, only to beg to be put down as soon as he felt the restraining squeeze of arms which he knew meant needed rest was coming. I always held him longer than he thought he needed, whispering in his ear, stroking his hair until his body relaxed into mine, and he slept. I’m like this with God when things get iffy in life, craving the security of His embrace while not wanting to be held without freedom to run away. When the battle of brain cancer began for us, I could do nothing to escape it. I had been besieged by it, surrounded from all sides. I could see my former life lit ablaze by the enemy, my coming life clouded into darkness with smoke and ash from the flames. I could move neither forward nor backward. I could only sit in wait as the flames of cancer did their work, wondering what would be left in the aftermath. But, because I was hemmed in by God, I was more overcome by His peace than I was overwhelmed by the horror of my circumstances. I am not alone in this. Circumstances vary wildly, but many who know Christ will tell you they have experienced this same sensation.
Psalm 139 says we are hemmed in-behind and before; God’s hand laid upon us. The meanings of passages like this are often lost in translation from one language to another. For me, hemmed means stitched, but in its truer translation, it means to be beset or besieged; trapped, enclosed, like in a war. It is less like a sewing project and more like a battle where you’ve been placed in a guarded tower while the fighting rages on around you. You are held, not exactly comfortable but comforted, protected by a mighty force you know is powerful enough to defeat the enemies encircling you while keeping you safe at the same time. This is the hemming in of God for His people, stitch-work which binds us between the crucifying that saved and the eternity that restores. It is an all-consuming, overwhelming sort of captivity, an utter surrounding of. All the passionate, zealous taking we think of when a town is besieged…that is the passion and zeal with which God surrounds us with His love. He besieges us with His mercy and grace, holds us inescapably captive to His loving-kindness. He holds us tenderly, our most fragile and broken pieces cupped in the palm of his hand, while he does the delicate and tedious work of mending our brokenness with his wholeness. Our deepest wounds hemmed in by His suffering and our coming restoration.
I was introduced to a little girl last week named Rowen. She’s three. Her heart is failing. Like brain cancer, you have no reason to suspect these sorts of things until you or yours is suddenly dying with them. As I’ve joined with thousands to bring her broken heart before the Lord and ask for healing, God brought me to Psalm 139:5, and it is what I have been praying the Lord would do for Rowen-that He would hem her in in the truest sense of the word, the besetting, inescapable type of hemming this scripture really references, that her family would know they are utterly besieged by the grace of God, held in the hands of the One who is powerful enough to wage war on the enemy yet tender enough to cradle the most delicate of children in His arms and sing them into peaceful sleep, even in the midst of the fight.
I do not know what is to come in the story of Rowen’s heart, but what I do know is that all of her life is held in the hands of her Maker, and He does not forsake the works of His hands. He is working in and through her life-hemming her in, her past and future held in the capable hands which made her. His blood flows through her veins. His death has made the way for her healing.
“You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5
*Will you join me in praying for Rowen? She is in need of big physical healing, but we serve a bigger God. I know this. I have seen this. I live this. What seems impossible and confoundedly mysterious to man, God knows and purposes for His glory and our good. Pray for Rowen, friends, as you have faithfully prayed for us. Pray her family will be surrounded by the very presence of God, that His healing hand would work even as you are reading this to heal the physical brokenness of Rowen’s heart all the while continuing to use the steadfast faithful testimony of her parents to heal the spiritual brokenness of those watching her story unfold.
*And if you can give financially, please do that, too. I know the temptation is to look at the amount already given and do nothing. It may seem like a lot, but I can tell you from experience that it barely taps the surface of the deep well of financial burden this kind of life yields. You can give via this link:
*I encourage you to follow their story on instagram via these two links. You’ll find specific ways to pray, and come away with a deeper knowing of the goodness of God from reading their posts: