When examining our physical bodies, our eyes can't tell much beyond what is visible externally. While there may be clues that something is wrong, we often need diagnostic tools beyond what our eyes can see to determine the problem. X-rays allow us to see what is happening with the bones that lie within the skin.
The night I fell on the ice and hurt my elbow, I initially hoped that I had just jammed it somehow and that given a little time, it would be fine once more. That notion was dispelled the moment I got home and looked at the injury in the mirror. The visual evidence and the lack of mobility prompted me to go to the hospital and have it properly examined.
The resultant x-rays taken in the emergency room served two functions; they not only identified the nature of the problem, but also determined the course of action necessary to fix it. In my case, the images showed that the bone was not just broken but also displaced. Based on that x-ray evidence alone given to him over the phone, the doctor on call knew that he would be in to perform surgery on my arm later that day.
It was one thing to hear the doctor describe the plates and screws he had put in to piece things back together; it was another to see his work in the x-rays taken each time I came to his office for follow-up examinations. I found the pictures fascinating and studied them intently after the attendant pulled them up on the computer screen, while waiting for the doctor to come in. His purpose in taking them, of course, was to make sure that everything was still in place and healing as it should. When it became apparent in the weeks that followed that my arm was having difficulty opening up, we thought the problem was an issue with scar tissue. It was the x-ray that showed a piece of bone had grown up behind the joint preventing forward motion; again directing the doctor's treatment of the problem.
So often it's likewise external symptoms that first alert us to problems we may be experiencing in the spiritual realm. We know that we are wrong to be angry and impatient, critical of others, lacking in compassion or concern over others' well being. And we unsuccessfully try to correct the wrong behaviors, not realizing that there is a root cause for our problems beyond what we can see. In desperation we go to God, and in a moment of revelation, He shows us that we are broken and similarly out of place in our relationship with Him. It is likewise a situation that we are powerless to correct on our own; it requires the direct intervention of God Himself in sending Jesus to die on the Cross to heal us and reconcile us to Him. Even after our salvation experience, it is necessary to come back to God repeatedly and ask him to examine us again and again to show us how we are progressing in the recovery process, and to expose further problem areas that we need His help to correct. It is a lifelong journey that is exciting and fascinating in its unveiling as we partner with God to become all that He intended for us to be.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalm 139:23-24 KJV)