Hem Me In

He had hemmed me in
Behind and before,
Drew the lines that fall
But I thought to soar
Past sunsets that looked
Like bars might prove more.

Pastures green, like plain
Bread, stale and dry
Rolled on for days; Streams
Meandered nearby-
My eyes gazed elsewhere,
I refused to lie.

“Pleasant places, these,”
Said a lamb. I nod,
Pretend, but o’er the
Valley there’s a broad
Place with less restraints-
To please! But not God…

Oh, but there to taste
To spread like wild vine!
Should such a pleasure
Be deprived of mine?
Can sweet fruit not grow
Among fainter lines?

I went, armed with a
Spade, new depths to plumb!
Gold dust on top but
All beneath was scum.
I heaped it up as
Refuse and stood dumb.

The place between shame
And embracing drops
Hard; When one sees face
And fists full of slop
Pride says “Yes shameful,
But too late to stop.”

Oh, that those clear streams
Could satisfy now!
Those boundaries broken
Repair them!- but how?
To join the sheepfold
Snorting like a sow?

One shepherd watching
Eyes that penetrate
My shame, sees for miles
Dark places and waits,
Calls loudly for one
Missing- “Not too late.”

Grieving, sighing, I
Rise, how to return?
Feet dragging, chin down
Heart prepared for spurn.
Not glad, but least a
Chance for penance yearn.

A light that burns shone
Distant; I listened.
Heard pounding feet, thought
I saw sword glisten,
Dropped, hands up like a
Shield- “I have sinned!”

Then fell a gentle
Hand upon my head,
For every fear came
Peace, for sin instead
Of wrath He washed me
Clean in bath of red.

I looked to Him and
Radiant my face
Shone bright without shame
Brimming hope and grace.
More than a welcome,
I’d received a place.

He has hemmed me in
Oh wonderful thought!
What beautiful lines
He’s drawn, and my lot
By His great hand to
Pleasant places brought.

Lie me down beside
That boundless stream! Green
Pastures with ripe fruit
Trees blossom between,
God’s free bounty I’ve
Now tasted and seen!

Inspired by:

Psalm 139:5-6 “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.”

Psalm 23:1-3 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Psalm 18:19 “He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.”

Psalm 16:5-6 “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

And of course, the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32

Lately I can’t help but think of a song that fits what I’m thinking about so well. If you have never heard or seen this, I think you will be richly blessed.

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