The idea of God’s enclosing us in His hands can be taken two ways, depending on our spiritual posture. When we are in rebellion and running away from God, being hemmed in can feel restrictive. But when we are in communion with our Creator, His fencing promotes a feeling of security and well-being, which is what David describes in the following verses:
You hem me in — behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths,
you are there.
Psalm 139:5-8, NIV
When I was five years old, my mom and dad divorced. Unlike the idealistic splits depicted on television, theirs was ugly. And like many children from divorced families, I thought it was partly my fault. I thought I must have done something wrong. If only I’d been a better little girl — if I had been sweeter or kinder or used my inside voice more often — maybe Dad wouldn’t have left. So I resolved to be so good that nothing that bad could ever happen again. I was determined to make straight A’s and to act nice and to never let mom see me sad, because, goodness knows, she didn’t need any more grief.
One day not long after the divorce was final, the pressure of being perfect got to be too much. Deeply upset, I crawled under my bed so I could cry alone. As I was finally letting out all that emotion, I heard Mom calling me for dinner. But I didn’t answer, because I couldn’t control my tears — and I thought good girls weren’t supposed to cry. Soon I heard her footsteps padding down the hall. When she paused in my doorway, I held my breath, hoping she’d leave. Instead she asked gently, “Lisa, honey, are you under the bed?”
Finally I murmured, “Yes ma’am.” I lay there in utter misery, ashamed of my failure and certain I was about to get into trouble. Then the dust ruffle lifted, and my mom’s concerned face appeared. Without another word Mom got down on the floor, wedged herself under the bed, and lay down right next to me.
That’s the image that comes to mind when I ponder God’s omnipresence as described in Psalm 139:7-12. On our worst days, when we’re trying to hide our misery or conceal our failures, our perfect God doesn’t stand at a distance, waiting for us to pull ourselves together. He crawls right in beside us, amid the dust bunnies and clutter of our lives, to show that we’re never alone in our messes. In fact, that’s the very reason Jesus left the shiny halls of heaven to dine in the dusty homes of ordinary people: because God refuses to leave us alone to wallow in our misery in sin.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139:9-12, NIV
No matter where we go, no matter what we do, God is with us. His holy hands won’t let go of us.
Lisa Harper appears on LIFE TODAY this Thursday. Excerpted from A Perfect Mess by Lisa Harper. Copyright ©2009 by Lisa Harper. Used by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.