How my faith was strengthened in an MRI tube
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Do you know what a culvert pipe is?
Otherwise, I can save you a few minutes of Google research. It is a 12 or 18 inch wide pipe, usually corrugated steel or plastic, that runs under a driveway allowing water to drain. I know culvert pipes from personal experience.
As a little boy on a challenge offered by a “friend”, I started crawling through a long one of them, only to find myself stuck in the middle with my arms out in front of me. Then came the panic. I couldn’t move. It was claustrophobia at its worst. Fortunately, a sympathetic friend (clearly not the same “friend”) took pity on me and pulled me out.
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Decades later, I crawled through a culvert pipe again. But this one was a massive, clean, white thing… plugged into the wall: a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.
Just stepping into the room where my body was going to slide into this monster made my heart race. That culvert pipe panic is back. Obediently, I lay down on the toboggan-shaped sled that inserted my body, feet first, into the hollow. If you’ve had this experience, you’re with me, aren’t you. Your heart is beating too. Right?
The friendly technician began to describe what was about to happen, including the loud clicking sounds as he took pictures. I tried to concentrate but found that my fears preempted his explanation.
God was right there. Look for me. Nothing is hidden from Him. Everything that I have inside, He knows it. All. Only. Thing. No technician will be needed to evaluate the results.
And then I remembered something that changed everything. My sister, eight years younger than me, has been my girlfriend all her life. Debbie is an angel. We have celebrated the joys and overcome the difficulties of each other for 65 years.
Right before I was swallowed by the MRI, something she told me about her own MRI experience came back on repeat.
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Standing inside the humming tube, the words of Psalm 139 streamed into his mind; they gently replaced the panic, it was filled with…peace:
Lord, you sought me and you knew me.
You surrounded me; you put your hand on me.
This wonderful knowledge is beyond me.
It’s high; I can’t reach it.
(Ps 139:1, 5-6 BCS).
Now it’s my turn. Inside the tube. I am facing two unrelated cancers and the news can be scary. But instead of terror, my heart was filled with truth. Even joy and calm.
Like a compassionate father, God was there. Look for me. Nothing is hidden from Him. Everything I have inside, He knows. All. Only. Thing. No technician will be needed to evaluate the results. He see. He hears my fears. My repentant voice. He forgives. He cures. He restores. He adores… me.
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Due to the sobering diagnoses I was dealing with, there were a lot more MRI visits. Despite the potentially frightening memories of the culvert pipe, every time inside the tube was beautiful. Tremendous. Cleaning. Each. It’s true.
Even if you have never had an experience inside an MRI tube, real or imagined, be encouraged by the truth that God knows your heart. Nothing is hidden from Him. Like that mighty all-seeing X-ray machine, nothing in your past has happened without your knowledge. Good things. Hard things. He celebrates your obedience. He offers grace to your error… your wholeness and your brokenness. He see.
Even if you have never had an experience inside an MRI tube, real or imagined, be encouraged by the truth that God knows your heart. Nothing is hidden from Him.
These things in your life and mine are a priority for Him. Wherever you are. Whatever you do. And with every detail of our lives in his sovereign vision, he loves you. Deeply.
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Like the prodigal son who returns to his father, God, this God, forgives you. Embrace your broken spirit. Best of all, included in this knowledge is His promise to heal our fiery hearts, now clearly in His sight. Believe that. It’s true.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
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