We often need a boost of inspiration before we head out for a medical appointment. Too frequently, our head takes on a limp look, unsure of what awaits. A rested, peaceful spirit can make all the difference in how we approach that unknown. I felt that way last week when I was headed for a second MRI appointment.

At the first one, I was told the machine kept registering “E”. No MRI for me that day. As an apology for inconveniencing me that morning, the tech gave me a $10 gasoline gift card. Who does that? Ryan definitely won my award for best customer service that day. Kudos to Florida Hospital’s FRI team. The following morning, I stopped for a few minutes of prayer before leaving for round two. I sensed the Holy Spirit leading me to Psalm 3. He caught my attention here with a whisper:

“Thou, O Lord, art a shield about me. You’re my glory and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

A familiar verse on the pages of my life. A sweet smile captured my face when I remembered learning to sing this scripture long ago on a retreat weekend, at Vermont’s Lyndonville State College. Treasured memories of beautiful worship, anointed teaching, healing prayer, and much love stirred in my soul. How easy it was to resurrect that melody, to sing it continuously as I drove to my MRI appointment, putting my trust in God on the way.

How different could an MRI machine be from the PET and CT scans I’ve had on my cancer journey? Scary-looking huge contraption different! Until I noticed it was painted Florida style with a soothing beach scene, complete with the requisite beach oats, sand mounds, and fluffy white clouds. Though I didn’t see it, a seagull had to be there, wouldn’t you think? A restful sight. Well done, GE. You still bring good things to life.

It wasn’t until I was (too) snug inside that I realized this hunk of mechanical metal and plastic was surrounding me completely, with all its harnessed power and danger. No lifting my head in there. My lips mouthed the comforting scripture: “Thou, O Lord, art a shield about me….” He was indeed all around me. I was safe in His protective care, complete with a warmed blanket. He was as close as my next breath. Especially after I was instructed repeatedly to, “Breathe in. Hold your breath.” Embracing this magnetic imaging space was increasingly easier every time I acknowledged God’s presence with me. Psalm 3’s shield had brought me peace.

If you’ve never had an MRI, you’d be surprised that I wasn’t the only vocalist in the exam room. The massive magnetic invention had a rhythmic tune of its own. Much like repeating door buzzers in a city apartment building. Toggle-sounding, like factory machines. Disruptive components, yet purposeful. With an odd beat. Not at all like the melody I brought with me. I fell back on how I learned to breathe deeply during spiritual direction training. Letting go of stress, embracing the peace of the Lord. When I was finally brought out of the MRI machine and able to lift my head, Ryan the tech complemented me, saying I’d done really well with breathing. “Better than most.” I asked if that meant a star for my forehead. He smiled. But I knew Who really deserved that star.