Hem Me In…

        I can still see my Mother’s dreamy eyes as she shared her dream of living in a little house with a white picket fence!  This was her dream of peace.  Indeed, we had a white picket fence that surrounded our little house and our love for each other, until I was six years old. We moved to the ‘brown house’ and soon it had a fence of safety.  In the ‘little house’, we were safe from passersby from the outside world. Our yard cocooned us and contained a children’s paradise.  A roofed sand pile, a baby goat, and a Dad-engineered steering wheel swing.  On the rich green grass, Dad taught us to do somersaults and cartwheels. We took turns feeding the goat with a bottle of milk.

         Mother often quoted this verse – You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5. (NIV)  We are hemmed in God’s safety net, a retreat from the world and its influences leading us away from the safety of God’s ‘picket fence’ of security.  When I heard the reference to being hemmed in, I pictured the nimble fingers of Mom, hemming a garment. Often, that hem was stitched in with tiny stitches, and the material was folded tightly, ready to receive the stitches.
         Another version says He goes before and behind us…there are no stragglers. I led a group of first graders down the hall, and wondered, should I lead or make sure no one wandered away.  When we respond to God’s gift, we are safely His.
         From the time we are born, we long for security – We want and need belonging and love first.  Our physical needs are unending – hunger, thirst and being comfortably ‘dry’.  We never outgrow these needs. Our parents provide these earthly needs and teach us how to love like Jesus. They also teach us to live in this world of doubts and fear with the courage of faith.  When our parents are called Home, we are ready to ‘solo’ in this life without their faith and guidance. 
         It is then we remember little comments and little acts of kindness we have seen in their lives.  These things replay in our hearts – and begin to have an eternal import.  It is then that we realize with certainty that our personal faith in God, trusting Him and believing His Son becomes our ‘white picket fence’ of security! 
         Why do I write? Recently, I realized how Mother coped with her grief after my Dad died.  She wrote a year of sermons, fifty-two in number. She sought God in her grief.  When I visited, there was a celebration of Dad’s life and celebration of the love of God.  I still have her journals to ‘Dear Papa’ she wrote through each day.  Jesus was her security and strength. She sought God each day…to guard her faith.  Each morning she prayed God’s blessing on her day, and glorify Him by sharing Jesus and be a blessing to someone in Jesus’ Name.  Her faith in Jesus became her ‘white picket fence’ purpose provided joy each day. 
         What is the first step? Believe and trust!  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:33-34. 
         Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48.  We may not be perfectly perfect, but in Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven! 
         Guard your love, your innocence, your faith, and your love for others by loving, protecting, believing, and loving one another.  Welcome the opportunity to bless others by listening to them.  It is a gift!  It is hospitable.  It is healing.
         Begin the day with praise for Jesus and His Love.  Give your love to others freely.  Follow Jesus’ example of living and loving! 
         Read the following scriptures and see how often we are to guard our hearts!  Build a spiritual ‘white picket fence’ around your heart!
         Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23
         Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. Psalm 16:6
         Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips. Psalm 141:3
         He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Proverbs 2:8
         For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Psalm 34:7
         Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. I Corinthians 16:13
         Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. 2 Corinthians 3:23
         Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:7-8
            For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7
         Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. I Peter 2:25
         You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing.  Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:17-18
            The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates.  There were three gates on each side—east, north, south, and west. Revelation 21:12-13

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