The MRI technician was painfully unclear.
With one ear pierced and scrubs that barely covered his midriff, he was the last person from whom I expected to receive a lesson in truth that afternoon.
But then again, doesn’t that seem to be Yahweh’s favorite way to meet us? When we least expect it, from folks we may not believe are even ready or capable to speak it.
Uncomfortable in a hospital gown, he directed me to lie down on the small, narrow table next to the seemingly massive machine. The table became a glorified conveyer belt and it was already moving before he asked his last-second question of, “Are you ready?”
As I rolled into the machine, heart beating double and anxious for the half hour I would be lying immovable, he sent me off with some last minute advice:
“Jennifer, you’re perfectly safe… just be still.”
Just be still.
I’ve been finding it quite hard these days to just be still. I find it easier to let my mind run wild with frustrations from the past and fears of the future. I want to know who and where and when and why. I don’t want to be still, I don’t want to wait – I just want answers.
And that’s where my plan to follow Jesus and remain in control begins to unravel. I learned that the MRI would only be successful if I listened to his last minute advice. The images could only be captured if I gave heed to the instruction of the odd technician and indeed laid still.
Knowing that my physical restlessness would directly affect the doctor’s ability to identify and diagnose the issue in my shoulder, I was motivated to get over the nerves and just be still.
As I slid into the massive machine, unable to do anything but lay and wait, I heard the same advice echo over the wonderings swirling in my mind: just be still. My restlessness directly affects my ability to hear my Shepherd’s voice and follow His lead.
And I’m as dumb as the dumbest sheep to ever be cared for by a faithful shepherd. I am quick to doubt, I am critical, and I am hesitant to believe truth. I am restless, feisty, and prideful. I choose myself over Jesus a lot.
But oh, to be still. To be led by still waters. To lie down in green pastures. To know my Shepherd’s voice so well that when He beckons me to uncharted territories, I follow without question. To be so confident in His heart that I don’t need answers, or details, or everything all at once. To know that I can trust Him. Oh, to be still.
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”
Standing before the Red Sea. Fleeing their captors. Entirely unsure of where they were going, only a hint at Who was leading them. And in the grandest moment of their exit from Egypt, at the height of their fear, Moses speaks with bold humility and proclaims a promise flowing straight from Yahweh’s heart:
The battle is mine. You are mine. Just be still.
Be still, be still, be still. You have a King who cares so delicately for your heart. He knows what is to come. He’s seen it, He’s preparing it, and He cares about it.
Stillness is antithesis of anxiety and the embodiment of confidence in God’s goodness. (It’s also the antithesis of my tendencies, which constantly shout “make yourself busy with “good” things and you won’t notice how much you forget Yahweh.”)
My only prayer for the MRI itself was clarity. I simply wanted to know whether or not there was a tear and what I would need to do to fix it.
Ironically, the MRI was as unclear as scientifically possible. They could see that there was no major tear, but further testing would be necessary to determine if there was a minor tear causing me trouble. The former is good news, no doubt. But the lack of certainty, potential need for further testing, and ultimately the inability to know for certain what action steps were necessary was exactly the point.
As I walked out of the doctor’s office that morning I heard Yahweh’s gentle voice:
“You can’t control this either, Gwen. You’ve just got to be still.”
Be still and know or be restless and forget.
Knowing that Yahweh is a good God can set you free from your need to control, to have it all together, and to make calculated decisions based on the things you can and cannot see. Remember, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”