Do you know what a culvert pipe is?
If not, I can save you a few minutes of googling. It’s a 12- or 18-inch-wide pipe, usually made of corrugated steel or plastic, that goes under a driveway that allows for water drainage. I know about culvert pipes from personal experience.
As a little boy on a dare offered by a “friend,” I started crawling through a long one of these, only to get stuck in the middle with my arms in front of me. Then came the panic. I could not move. This was claustrophobia at its worst. Thankfully a compassionate friend (clearly not the same “friend”) had pity on me and pulled me out.
Decades later I crawled into a culvert pipe again. But this one was a massive contraption, clean and white…and plugged into the wall: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine.
Just walking into the room where my body was going to slide into this monster sped my heart. That culvert-pipe panic returned. Obediently I laid down on the toboggan-like sled that would insert my body, feet first, into the hollow. If you’ve had this experience, you’re with me aren’t you. Your heart is pounding, too. Right?
The nice technician began describing what was about to happen, including the loud clicking noises when it’s taking pictures. I tried to focus but found my fears speeding ahead of her explanation.
God was right there. Searching me. Nothing is hidden from Him. Whatever I have inside, He knows. Every. Single. Thing. No technician will be necessary to evaluate the results.
And then I remembered something that changed everything. My sister, eight years my junior, has been my buddy her whole life. Debbie is an angel. We’ve celebrated joys and weathered each other’s struggles for 65 years.
Just before I was swallowed by the MRI, something she told me about her own MRI experience came flooding back.
Finding herself inside the whirring tube, the words of Psalm 139 came flooding into her mind; they gently replaced the panic, she was filled with… peace:
Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me.
This wondrous knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.
(Ps 139:1, 5-6 CSB).
Now it’s my turn. Inside the tube. I’m facing two unrelated cancers and the news may be frightening. But instead of terror, my heart was filled with truth. Even joy and calm.
Like a compassionate father, God was right there. Searching me. Nothing is hidden from Him. Whatever I have inside, He knows. Every. Single. Thing. No technician will be necessary to evaluate the results. He sees. He hears my fears. My repentant voice. He forgives. He heals. He restores. He adores…me.
Because of the sobering diagnoses I was facing, there were many more visits to the MRI. Potentially frightening memories of the culvert pipe notwithstanding, every time inside the tube was beautiful. Wonderful. Cleansing. Every single one. It’s true.
Even if you’ve never had an experience inside an MRI tube, real or imagined, please be encouraged by the truth that God knows your heart. Nothing is hidden from Him. Like this powerful, all-seeing X-ray machine, nothing in your past has happened without His knowledge. The good things. The hard things. He celebrates your obedience. He offers grace to your waywardness…your wholeness and your brokenness. He sees.
Even if you’ve never had an experience inside an MRI tube, real or imagined, please be encouraged by the truth that God knows your heart. Nothing is hidden from Him.
These things in your life and mine are front-of-mind for Him. Wherever you are. Whatever you’re doing. And with all the details of our lives in His sovereign view, He loves you. Deeply.
Like the prodigal who comes home to his father, God—this God—forgives you. Embraces your broken spirit. Best of all, included in this knowing is His promise to heal our longing hearts, now clearly in His view. Believe this. 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).