26 From one man[f] He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. 28 For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring. (Acts 17:26-28)
This sermon of Paul’s is one of my favorite passages. As I was preparing this series and meditating on it once again, I was reminded of David’s words in Psalm 139:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
I used to struggle with the whole ‘hemmed in’ part of this text. When I was little my parents put a fence around our swingset and that was where we were allowed to play. We had a large yard where we could have played, and we could see other children running freely from yard to yard. I spent hours on my swing longing for that kind of freedom.
As I grew I had a nagging sense of dissatisfaction and feeling that there must be more–like the best things were being withheld from me. What I didn’t see as a child, or even later as an adult, was that this “hemming in” was for my protection. My parents wanted to keep me away from the busy streets that ran along side and in front of our house. They did it out of love, not some maniacal desire to make my life miserable.
God works the same way.
And when I learn to live contently within those safe boundaries, I’m also able to see God more clearly. When I reach out, I can find him because he’s near and wants to be found.
Have you felt like God is keeping you from something? Do you look at the world with envy, like I did the other kids outside my fenced in yard? If so, here’s your challenge for today. Instead of complaining, thank him for the protection he’s provided. You may never know what disasters or disastrous choices he may have saved you from.
He is here. He is near. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.
PRAYER: O God, our Protector. Thank you for the way you ‘hem us in.’ You hold us and withhold the things that would cause us harm. Your Word tells us you do not withhold any good thing. Forgive us our pouty ways and grow greater trust in our hearts. Amen