Hemmed In

"He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection." Psalm 91:4 (NLT)

I was at the bottom of a pile of people, struggling to breathe. The pillow fight had gone horribly wrong. Someone was on my back, my head, my feet, and my mouth was down towards the floor. I was trying to scream, "Get off me!" But I couldn't move my head. Now, girlfriends, if you want to get my adrenaline pumping, just put me in a claustrophobic situation where I cannot breathe and I will PANIC.

The worst thing about the whole experience was that I could not get people's attention. They were all laughing and oblivious to my need for space and air. After what seemed like an eternity, someone suggested that they all get off of me. One by one, they laughingly got to their feet. Finally able to draw in a full breath into my lungs, I did what I absolutely did not want to do in front of my friends--I started bawling. Their shocked expressions only made me feel more humiliated. They hadn't realized how distressed I was or how hysterical I had become as a result of their weight on me.

"Shawn, are you okay? We're sorry. What happened? What's wrong with you? Why are you crying?!!" they wanted to know.

"I couldn't breathe!" I said back, my panic making me sound harsher than I wanted to sound.

All the laughing stopped. We all sat there, staring at one another.

Girlfriends, have you felt like you were at the bottom of the pile this week? Like there was no air to be found? And though you have been screaming inside, no one around you can stop laughing long enough to realize how dire and suffocating life has been for you?

I cannot stand tight places. I panic when I get into a space in which I don't have room to stand or turn or stretch my arms out wide. And if it is dark in those places, my panic level quickly threatens to overtake me.

Life is a series of tight places. If I do not have the right perspective, I will become claustrophobic and panic so greatly that I will not be able to calm down and think. For those of us who have trusted Jesus as our Savior, those dark, tight places are not places to be afraid of. We may think that our circumstances have closed in around us and are starting to choke the life right out of us. If we are desperately seeking God's direction for our lives and holding on to His righteous right hand, those claustrophobic situations can lose their grip on our throats, if they are viewed through the eyes of faith. Listen to what our God promises us in the dark, tight places:

Psalm 139:5 (New International Version)

You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

Psalm 18:17-19 (New International Version)

17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.

18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.

19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 139:11-12 (New International Version)

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

That suffocating situation we find ourselves in has been ordained by God. Do we understand that? The One who separated light from darkness is the One who is in control of those tight places. Our circumstances do not hem us in, my beloved sisters, our great, glorious, and awesome God does! And we will not fear or panic because when He hems us in, His hand is upon us!

That darkness we dread is not darkness to Him. Do you know what that darkness is--evidence that He has hidden you and I away from the terror underneath His mighty wing. It is in the cramped, horrible circumstances of life that we will be able to look back and see when the glory of God was passing over us. Through the gift of desperation that He gives to us, that spacious place from where we will soon look back as we trust Him now will only be able to be explained by His goodness. Our God will not give His glory to anyone else. He delights in us. To show us that He is worthy of making Him our only delight, He will orchestrate those dark, claustrophobic places to show us a side of Him we may have never experienced before.

Do we just have head knowledge that Jesus Christ is our Deliverer, our Provider, our Healer, our Sustainer? Or can we look back at those times He hemmed us in to give us new understanding of how incredible He is because we have experienced Him to be all those things? Oh, girlfriends, that is the adventure! That is the purpose of living and drawing our next breath. To be able to say wholeheartedly..."Jesus, You have brought me out into a spacious place because You rescued me and You delight in me!" Let's change our perspective and realize that He has hemmed us in and rejoice in advance for that spacious place that is just ahead!

Jesus, how tragic to only know You as Savior when You are so much more than that! You are the Deliverer, the Sustainer, the Great Physician, the Provider. Change my perspective so that I know that Your hand is the One hemming me in. There is no claustrophobia to experience in that spacious place You will bring me to.