Confined space

Confined...really? by bobmendo
Confined...really?, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

I'm not sure what the city of Sydney was thinking when a law was passed that requires the labelling of this grate or this sewer cover with the words, "Confined Space." It seemed pretty obvious to me, but I've seen that kind of notification in the Sydney Harbour Tunnel where the 'north' and the 'south' directions are each labelled with dozens of arrows. Not really needed, but some legislator thought it a good idea also.

Confined space. I don't usually like those. I've walked on submarines in Virginia and in New York City and am amazed at the configuation of the bunks. I thought it was bad to sleep on bunk beds in Scotland last month, but for different reasons. There was a snorer in each hostel where I stayed, and that was terribly off-putting. Very noisy.

But the bunks on subs are crammed tighter than a drum. They are seriously confining. The sailors have to sleep in a stack of bunks in very little vertical room. I don't know the dimensions, but trust me, it's confining. No room to twist and turn.

I found the word 'confine' in my Bible today. Exodus 21.29 talks about a man whose ox has a bad habit of goring others. And if the man has been warned about this problem, and 'does not confine' the ox, and then "it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death."

Yup, that's the rule.

So, wait a minute. Why is 'confine' only used once in the Good Book? Actually the Hebrew word is 'shamar' meaning 'guard' or 'keep' and it means a lot more than a leash. It means the owner has to keep a guard like a shepherd guards, or like a watchman who has the responsibility of maintenance of a jewelry store or a delivery of Armaguard moneys.

That same word is used of God who 'watches' over Israel. Not to confine us at all, but to care for us, to love us, to make sure nothing evil happens to us. I'm ever grateful for the Shamar of Israel. (Psalm 121 says he never slumbers nor sleeps, but He keeps Israel.) Awesome.

So if you are feeling confined by religion or by religious activity, maybe it's time to look up and see your God who is keeping you in all circumstances. If you want to be wayward, I guess that's confining, but really, it's a joy!


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