Under one of the overhangs just outside of the church side door, Barn Swallows have built a nest and have young ones.
Every time the door opens, the mother flies-away from the nest and circles nearby. She will follow me, flying in circles around me, until I reach my vehicle.
She is protecting her nest and babies. I noticed that if I stop walking, that bird will continue to circle just above me, making noises and swooping closer, until I move-on. She is keeping me hemmed-in.
Psalm 139:5 reads, speaking of God: “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” (NRSV). Many younger people don’t know what a hem is, or what it means to be hemmed-in.
Webster’s Dictionary offers two definitions: (1) A border of a garment or cloth; one made by folding-back an edge and sewing it down. (2) To enclose and confine; to surround.
It seems to me that both definitions point to what God does for us by the power of the Holy Spirit. God leaves no loose-ends in anything. Like the border of a garment that has been hemmed to prevent unraveling, God cares for us in ways that we often may not understand. “[God knows] when I sit down and when I rise up; [God discerns] my thoughts from far away. [God searches] out my path and my lying down, and [is] acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.” (Psalm 139:2-4). That is why Jesus advises us not to worry, because “your heavenly Father knows [everything you need].” (Matthew 6:32b).
And, like the bird that keeps me hemmed-in, God is protecting us by keeping the enemy encircled, thereby protecting us from the full-on assault of evil.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid? … For in the day of trouble [God] shall keep me safe … [God] shall hide me in the secrecy of [God’s] dwelling …” (Psalm 27:1,7).
The power of God surrounds and protects all who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and are working to imitate the life of Christ. Without a relationship with Jesus; without a life of seeking truth, justice, and righteousness, we are subject to the power of evil.
With a relationship with Jesus, we are promised peace in our lives now, and life everlasting with the saints in glory. God never forgets us, but humans often forget God. You are loved and hemmed-in by God, and how much more you are loved than the birds of the air (Luke 12:24).
Blessings and Peace to you,
Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at email@example.com.