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Hemmed in on the Highest Pass

by RACHEL MCDONALD YANAC PROTECTION/SAFETY God’s guidance & direction Protection & safety overseas Fear
Hemmed in on the Highest Pass
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“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me... If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Psalms 139:5, 9-10

“Lord, please help me to get the 4X4 traction engaged or we won’t make it over the pass in this snowstorm.” 

I nervously whispered that prayer as I glanced over my shoulder to check on our one-year-old son strapped snugly in his car seat, while at the same time trying to avoid looking at the deep chasm just beyond the edge of the snow-covered, rutted mountain road. 

It had been sunny in the valley that morning as we packed up the campsite, my husband and his team setting out on their mission trek while Danny and I headed back into the mountains toward home. It didn’t take long for the nice weather to turn into a hailstorm, however, which got worse the closer we inched towards the highest drivable pass in this stretch of the Andes Mountains. A line of stranded market trucks hugging the mountain occupied the safer part of the switchback road, leaving the cliff edge for any driver brave enough to keep going. 

I wanted to get home, and I knew our Toyota could make it through the storm if I could only get the four-wheel drive to engage. When nothing happened, I changed my prayer: “Lord, please engage the 4X4 unless there’s a reason that we shouldn’t attempt to drive over the pass.”


Finally, one of the stranded truck drivers took my wheel, executed a dangerous three-point turn on the slippery cliff edge, and begged me to take his wife with us as we drove the long way home. As soon as we began driving back down the mountain towards the valley where we had spent the night, I felt a distinct “clunk” in the transmission; the four-wheel drive system had just engaged. I was tempted to turn around and tackle the climb over the 16,453-foot pass, but God had answered a specific prayer by keeping the 4X4 from working until we were driving safely in the other direction. 

I don’t know what might have happened, but I do know what did happen. The truck driver’s wife, Danny and I took the longer route home, arriving in our town eight grueling but safe hours later. God had guided us with His own right hand, hemming us in on the slippery switchback roads, and holding us fast on that highest mountain pass.

Closing Prayer
Thank you, Lord, for your guiding presence as we go through our lives each day. Thank you for your right hand that holds us fast when we face the fears and dangers of life. Thank you for hemming us in on all sides, so we can be assured of the fact that, whatever happens, we are held in your hand. Please help us to rest in these promises today. Amen.
Song: Psalm 139 by Sons of Korah Here’s a beautiful song focusing on God’s protection in Psalm 139
Scripture: Psalm 139 Read through the entire Psalm… and maybe even check it out in a couple of different translations.
Article: Driving the Punta Olimpica Old Road Take a look at the high mountain pass that we hoped to drive through that day
Article: The Punta Olimpica Pass in Peru The road is paved now, so it’s not quite so dangerous, but this motorcycle journey shows the many hairpin turns and cliffs.
Question for Reflection

We know that God’s promises to protect us and to hold us in His hand do not mean that “bad things” will never happen to us or to our families. In fact, many of us know people who have lost their health or even their lives in situations where they were praying for God’s protection and healing. How can promises like the ones we’ve seen in Psalm 139 help you to trust in God’s perfect sovereignty in circumstances where you would like to see a specific outcome that might not be God’s plan?

Rachel McDonald Yanac
June 10, 2024

I enjoy sewing, hence I love the word picture of being “hemmed in, behind and before.” A good hem is what holds a dress (or a curtain, a tablecloth, or a Christmas tree skirt) together. Once the hem is finished, the garment is complete. When I think of being hemmed in by God himself, I know that regardless of what happens to me or my family, our situation is complete - our sins are forgiven and our salvation is final; our lives are under God’s complete protection for as long as he chooses to have us live on earth; and our future home in heaven is waiting for us to occupy it the moment God chooses to change our address!