The heat has broken deep and sweet and wide enough for small boys to ride bikes. They're on the river path, brown knees rising and legs pumping hard. They laugh and shout to one another and the goodness, the wild, carefree sounds of little-boy hearts reach my ears. I'm riding behind them, watchful, peaceful, as they flow beside the Mississippi. One brother. And another. Finally the smallest one on four wobbly wheels.
So we ebb forward, Sam in the lead. He's gathers energy from the long stretch of road and he's riding way too fast. Gabe, not long on two wheels, teeters and totters and whispers close to parked cars. "Keep a safe distance," I shout, then he veers toward the center. Zay doesn't know what to do with the wide space, so he zigs back and forth. His legs and tiny and he's slow. There's a big stretch growing between him and Sam.
I try to ride somewhere in the middle, looking forward, looking back. I try to place my own bike between my boys and the middle of the road, but we're moving along and I'm outnumbered and it doesn't take long for me to wish we'd stayed on that quiet, simple path.
Then a car whirs past and up ahead there's a red van backing from a drive and I'm praying like mad that the lady behind the wheel sees Sam and that Sam sees her, too.
But my protective cover feels too thin.
I continue to ride along, eyes moving from boy to boy while we all move down the road, and suddenly I hear the voice, in the deep place, the still quiet place where He speaks and I know that He is Lord. I hem them in. I go before. I go behind. I understand that it's not just this road. It's life. And His words bring wonder and His words bring peace and I'm grateful for a God who is bigger than I can understand yet personal enough to whisper to a fretting mama's soul.
And my hands aren't gripping the bars quite as tight and I breathe deep. And I see the boys, how they're safe, how they're happy, how they're learning brave new things and I'm in awe of Him.
Because I know that while I try by best to stretch over my boys, He's hemming me in, too.
You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5