See you in 30 minutes,” the tech says, pushing the button that sends me into the belly of the beast.
I roll my shoulders inward, making myself as narrow as possible for the short journey into the MRI machine. It’s a trip I’ve made a dozen times since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004, but for some reason, I’m always surprised at just how breathtakingly small 24 inches in diameter actually is.
Once the table stops, I unfold, letting my arms rest against the sides of the tube. Then I adjust the “panic button” in my right hand and cross my ankles that now feel as though they’re part of a different world—the one just beyond this austere prison, where minutes before, I walked past rooms in which some people were getting good news, others bad. Though I’m in the heart of a bustling medical complex, I’ve never felt more isolated.
Once the test starts, there’s not much to do except remain perfectly still. But while my body is motionless, my mind is free to gallop from one worry to another. What if the doctor finds something this time? Maybe that dizzy spell I had wasn’t just fatigue. How will I write if I’m blind?
Fear makes the already-snug space that much tighter, so I squinch my eyes shut and—when there’s a lull in the mechanism’s beeping and banging—take a deep breath.
In the brief silence, it hits me. God is God outside this machine that holds me in its sterile embrace, and He is God within it. There isn’t a place, no matter how small, where He is barred entrance. Nowhere He’s denied control. And there, in that chamber, David’s words resonate: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there” (Psalm 139:7-8).
And though nothing about my surroundings has changed, I remember I’m not confined by this machine, nor am I defined by it. Whatever the scans show—whether a new lesion has appeared or my brain is more scarred than expected—I will get up and leave the same way I came in: through a maze of hallways, as much a child of God as when I walked in.
Illustration by La Tigre