"So Satan answered the LORD and said, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, around all that he has on every side?..." Job 1:1,2a NKJV
I've been thinking a lot about hedges lately.
Hedges can be many things. They are protection - they help keep things out.
But they also keep things in.
Hedges hide things. And some hedges are fruit bearing.
I remember as a kid walking home form school past a hedge with berries.
I think every kid in the fifth grade knew that hedge.
We'd stop and gather a few on the way home. They were crisp and purple and slightly sweet. They flowered beautifully in the spring, and we kept a close eye on their progress.
The girls would snatch a few and move on. The boys would grab a handful and have berry fights, leaving the sidewalk full of purple splotches. Or they'd throw them at us girls, leaving us full of purple splotches.
More than one hedge enclosed dogs that barked and snarled like they had rabies, and their hedges bore larges signs with red letters that said BEWARE OF THE DOG. Some of them sounded so scary I would cross the street before I got to that house.
Some hedges had flowers. Some had thorns. Some had flowers and thorns.
Some hedges enclosed private gardens, with sweetly burbling fountains heard clearly through the hedge.
CI is a type of hedge.
Sometimes it has thorns that prick and nettle. Sometimes they scratch and make us itch. Sometimes they are so tall we can see nothing but our illness. Sometimes they "hedge us in" so tightly we have no room to move and nowhere to look - except up. And sometimes they protect us in ways we will never know until heaven.
I began to wonder if my particular hedge held the snarling dog or the secret garden.
I discovered that sometimes it holds one, and sometimes it holds the other.
There are times when all I can do is look up - when the pain is winning or the fatigue is battering or my muscles are aching or I can't focus my thoughts enough to accomplish anything. That dog is snarling in my ears and I must either look up or huddle in the darkness.
There is One Whose presence can quiet the snarling and barking and replace them with a life-giving fountain of Living Water that burbles and freshens my spirit like nothing else can.
It all depends on where I'm looking.
If I concentrate on the hedge itself, I feel confined and deprived and ready to huddle in the darkness and pity myself for my "hard lot".
If I look up, my spirit can fly free and recognize that if Jesus picked this hedge for my life, it must be good, as all He does is good. He has things for me to learn that can be learned no other way. For my particular kind of soul needs these lessons given in this way, whereas someone else can perhaps learn them on an easier path.
Where Job's hedges kept all of his wealth and his children and his choices, they also limited him in the paths he could choose, and he learned well which ones to choose because of his love of his God. When the hedges were moved ever closer and closer, and began to hedge things out and him in, the lessons he had learned earlier stayed with him. He refused to curse God and die,as his loving wife counselled him. Instead he continued to talk to God, asking for a judge Who could translate for God what it meant to be human, how hard he had tried to "be good" and how unfair it was for a nice guy like him to have to suffer so much.
At one point he said "Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in? For my sighing comes before I eat, and my groans pour out like water...I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest for trouble comes." [Job 23,24,26 NKJV]
Yet after God comes and questions him, Job realizes he spoke of things of which he had no knowledge, things which were too great for him.
And so do I when I question the hedges He has enclosed me with - truly I have no idea why He chose them for me, what He is accomplishing by them, how long they will last.
But I have learned that when I cannot understand, I am to trust. When the going gets rough I am to worship. When I cannot stand another moment, I am to throw myself upon Him and offer the sacrifice of praise when it is the last thing I feel like doing. And I pray that my hedge will be one of the ones that bear fruit.
When the sons of Abraham say a blessing, it always begins with, "Blessed art Thou O LORD God, King of the Universe, Creator of (whatever the blessing entails "fruit of the vine" or "the growing of grain for bread" or "the giving of life"or "the hedges that enclose me") I often begin my prayers that way because it reminds me that the King of the universe is my God, that all things are possible to Him, that He created me, and chose this hedge for me. All the ways of the LORD are good.