I recently had my annual physical; and I had been dreading it. But my dread was for reasons beyond the obvious. The backless gowns, vinyl examination tables, and being put into positions – literally – that rob you of all dignity: No, I hate going to the doctor because of a different kind of exposure not related to physical nakedness.
When put under the stethoscope-bearing, X-ray-shooting, blood-sucking, prescription-writing interrogation of a skilled physician, your life has a way of telling on you. You can no better hide your secrets than you can hide your rear end while wearing one of those tie-behind frocks. Having you been smoking? It will show up in the blood tests. Been boozing? Your liver will rat you out. Are you under too much stress or exercising too little? Your blood pressure reading will tell the tale. Have you been stretched out on the sofa eating cheesy puffs every day? Then your LDL cholesterol will backstab you quicker than you can scarf down a Ho-Ho cake.
I prefer to keep my secrets, secret; but this is what my doctor cannot abide. He wants everything bare and in the open. Honestly, I should appreciate my physician’s nosy persistence, because his goal is not to punish, embarrass, or shame me. His goal is that I be well, free from disease, and make any necessary changes to maintain a fitness for life. He is working to accomplish one of the most difficult things imaginable with human beings: forcing me to face the truth about myself and how I live my life.
That is the same point made by the writer of Hebrews when he speaks of the Scriptures as “Sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating to divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it reveals the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The Bible isn’t a giant stick used to bash in the brains of those who do not believe or behave as we wish they would. It’s not an instrument of shame whereby violators of our interpretations are exposed and left hanging in the breeze (though some practitioners use the Bible exactly that way).
No, it is a powerful tool of personal examination. It opens up our hearts, spirits, and minds revealing how we have lived our lives. And when necessary, the Scriptures give us the required intervention – the ability to change our lives– and improve our health and well-being.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.