“How does it look?” she asked nervously as the dressing room curtain parted and she stepped out. Her bare toes peeked out from under sheer navy pants that she had to hold up as she walked. The shirt was a rainbow of sparkles and frills, swooped down low to accent her neckline. I stood back in the shadows as the shop owner and her assistant flocked to her side to ooh and ahh over the fabrics and patterns.
This was not my kind of place. Feeling rather like a bull in a china shop, I preferred to sit back and watch as she twirled for the mirror. They fawned over this customer because they knew she would make it worth their while. We have been here before. She is the happy customer who will leave with a lighter wallet and an arm load of clothes, and I am the hesitant tag-along who had to be bribed with the promise of a meal.
I watch as they make small talk and the store owner bends on aged knees to hem her pants. She carefully measures each bunch of fabric and deftly pins it into place. Her French manicure is flawless, her silver bangles spark as they catch and throw the light. She removes a few pins and replaces them in a better spot, and as I watch I think about what it is to be hemmed.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5
I think about it as my mind drifts far from the store, to a place where a King left his palace to die for me, all for love. I think about sacrifice, and what it means that the God of Heaven hems me in. He goes before me, He presses in behind me. No evil can get to me when I am folded in this way.
My find fumbles over this concept, turning it around like a stone tumbling down a creek bed. I think about it when I look out the studio windows at the blue sky and the old warehouse buildings down the street. He hems me in. I think about it when the store owner tells me I should start having her customer some grandkids. She couldn’t have known, but this one hurts. It’s just one of those days. Yet, He hems me in.
I watch as her hands work that fabric. It is folded under, tucked in, and held up with a pin. I feel Him pull my heart close, wrap it in His hands, and hold it there.
He hems me in.
I have read your promises a thousand times.
You are the One who sees me. You are the One who will never leave me.
But these words are fresh and new. They have always been there, but now I have Your eyes to see. You hem me in. You don’t need me. Yet You choose to be part of my story. You look on me and see my days when everything goes right, and my days when nothing goes according to plan. You are always here, always near.
When your people were scared and fleeing for their lives, You saw and You drew near. Fire by night and a cloud by day- You protected, guided, You hemmed them in. You sent them the food of heaven, and they named it "what-is-it"?
Thousands of years later, You do the same for me. You plant my steps firmly in the right path. You guide, and You go behind to keep me from straggling. You pass down manna, and I breathe in the what-is-it and learn to give thanks even here, in the middle of the not knowing.