Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! (Psalm 139:7-8 ESV)
I had always thought that I was fine with being cramped in enclosed spaces, until the summer of 2011 when I had my first MRI. That’s when I found out that I was wrong; in fact, not just wrong, but very, very wrong. If you’re unfamiliar with an MRI, it is a medical imaging procedure in which the patient is inserted into a tube just large enough for his or her body to slide into. Then (don’t lose me in the fancy medical jargon here), there are a bunch of loud hammering noises, clicks, claps, beeps and a variety of other atonal hubbub.
Initially, the cramped space and the noise didn’t bother me,I actually felt kind of like an astronaut beneath the white lights of the tube. But about ten minutes into the procedure, waves of panic crashed through my body and I cracked. For some reason, albeit irrational, I just couldn’t handle being in that tube any longer. It was a terrible experience. Six months later, I had to get another one and saying no wasn’t an option.
However, when I went into the machine this time, it was a much different experience. I was nervous again but this time I closed my eyes and prayed. Initially I felt embarrassed before God by my unreasonable fear, but I needed Him, so I told Him that. I prayed about life and fear and everything in between. It was the last place in the world I expected to connect with God, but I did, and it was amazing. He was there.
Regardless of my illogical fear and my sporadic conversation with Him, I deeply felt His presence. Afterward, as I drove home, the words of Psalm 139:7-8 came to life for me. Though I hadn’t been at the bottom of the Atlantic or at the top of Mount Everest, God was with me amidst my fear.
No matter the place or situation, God is there, available and unbelievably gracious toward us.