My Life Under Scrutiny

November 6, 2013

Today every inch of my body will be scanned; a PET scan first (neck downward), then a brain MRI (head only)…checking to see if the beast has gotten out of its cage. I welcome the scrutiny, because my cure is heavily invested in finding what ails me. Without that specific diagnosis and knowledge of the stage of the disease, it cannot be slain. Gone are any pretenses of privacy or the sovereignty of my own opinion. I mean, really, what good would it do for me to say, “Y’all, my insides are none of your business. There’s nothing wrong with me and I can take care of this cough on my own. C’mon, play the charade with me; if we all say there’s nothing wrong with my lungs, then there isn’t anything wrong with my lungs.” Folly, right? and completely self-defeating.

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick; I have not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17). What he meant was, those who claim they are spiritually well are not going to find any help from him. But those who recognize their need for God will be met and treated by the Great Physician. What is their ailment? The apostle Paul identifies the fatal spiritual illness as sin (Romans 6:23), and we were all born with it. Unless we acknowledge our symptoms, submit to the scrutiny of God’s examination, accept the diagnosis, and take the medicine, we will die of it.

And yet, just look at the spiritual gymnastics we perform to avoid acknowledgment and submission. No, I’m not really sick…well, okay, I’ve got a little addiction going here, but it’s not hurting anyone. Or, I was born this way (a compulsive liar, a glutton, an adulterer) and therefore my behavior should be celebrated as authentic, the “real me.” Ummm, it may be the “real me,” but “I” am seriously deluded if I do not see the danger of my condition. It is only a deeply rooted case of pride that fuels such a delusion. That is precisely the spiritual problem for which God offers the spiritual solution.

So what do we do about this wrong-headed self-determination? We turn ourselves in. We chime in with the psalmist’s plea:

23        Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24        See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23f)

We confront in our heart of hearts the reality that nothing is hidden from God. His motive for making known our true state is a desire to see our healing and redemption. We are wasting precious time as long as we insist that we have nothing to be healed of. If we could get over this spiritual hurdle, “the way everlasting” opens to us and a new life is possible. This is the Life that Jesus promised in his teaching, secured by his sacrifice on the cross, and delivered through his resurrection from the dead. It is ours; all we have to do is acknowledge our sickness to get the help that is freely given by our Savior.

But can you believe it? We even need God’s help to get up the gumption to be scanned for sin. This is the point where the Holy Spirit makes the reminder call and checks our spirit to make sure we know the way to the doctor, and then takes us there.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26f).

What kind of church would we be if we stood down from our defiant denials of sin and instead let God begin the deep work of transformation? Surely there is some relief simply in the act of acknowledging our helplessness against sin and our dependence on the Savior to break free from it. As a humble and contrite church, it is within reach to defeat of the spiritual cancer eating away at our Presbyterian/Reformed soul.  What we need is the chemotherapy of spiritual and ecclesiastical discipline, the radiation of God’s powerful Light and Truth, and the surgery to remove from the Body the one who seeks “to work us woe.”

It is these things I will be thinking about today while I hum to the MRI drone and clicks.

For regular updates on “the great lung cancer adventure,” see my Caring Bridge website at



6 Responses to “My Life Under Scrutiny”

  1. emd5542 Says:

    Thank you, Mary, for permitting us to walk alongside you on this rocky road with huge uphill climbs not for the faint of heart. We’re not stragglers either so keep your own pace and we’ll all arrive together. Emmanuel, Eleanor

  2. Marie Bowen Says:

    Great preaching, Mary! I will be praying for you today.

  3. Debi Murphy Says:

    OK, wow. Thank you for my devotion of the day. I will be humming and thinking about and praying for you Mary as you begin the investigation process. God be your comfort and guide today and always. Debi

  4. Tom Tripp Says:

    I pray that the doctors will see clearly whether there is anything else to be concerned about. I pray that God’s healing for your body. And I pray that Christ’s peace will hold your heart.

  5. Nile Norton Says:

    Mary, Mary,

    Hum, indeed, and vocalize, if necessary! Know that Sarah and I are embracing you in our thoughts and prayers today. Thanks also for your blog thoughts.


  6. Glen Thorp Says:

    Powerfully written. Have you seen the My Hope With Billy Graham DVD, “Defining Moments?” If not, it is worth watching. One story about the fight with leukemia and the solution. Praying for you. Glen Thorp

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