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Our Hearts Matter

The very words NUCLEAR STRESS TEST made my blood pressure rise. And the procedure itself didn't help matters.

Recently, my new cardiologist ordered an echocardiogram and a nuclear stress test to get a good understanding of my heart function and condition. The echocardiogram is painless and extremely interesting. I was lying in a position to watch the monitor along with the technician and could see the marvels of my beating heart as she measured and watched what all the electrodes and probes were telling her. She knew exactly what she was looking for. I used my imagination.

The nuclear stress test was a different matter entirely. A few years ago, I had a "normal" one where I walked on a treadmill while attached to electrodes. In retrospect, that was a piece of cake.

For the nuclear version I endured, it began with starting an IV. Then I laid utterly still in a cylinder (thankfully with most of my head OUTside) while a machine spent 12 minutes taking photos of my heart from every angle. Next, I went into a room where a blood pressure cuff was attached to my arm and a pulse monitor to my finger. Then as I was lying down, a radioactive tracer was injected into my IV. Within seconds, my heart was racing out of my chest frighteningly -- feeling uncomfortably like a heart attack or something very scary. Very unnerving. That lasted for several minutes while they took all kinds of measurements, then slowly the effects began to subside, and my sense of panic eased. The cuff and finger monitor came off and in another few minutes, the IV was taken out. At that point, I could eat and drink for the first time in about 14 hours. After about 30 minutes, I returned to the cylinder for 12 more minutes of lying still for photos. In all, I was there for 3 hours. Three stressful, unsettling hours. And frankly, I felt horrible for the rest of the day.

I was told that the cardiologist would be reading the results that evening and I would get a call with the report. The next day, no call. The day after that, no call. I was reasonably certain that this was one of those "no news is good news" situations, but still. Finally, on the third day, I left a message with the doctor's nurse, and she called me back. The results were very reassuring. "Nothing to be concerned about." "Heart function is VERY good." "See you for your follow-up appointment in October." Whew!

Several things have been on my mind through that experience.

1) Profound gratitude to have a healthy, well-functioning heart.

2) Amazement at the technology that allows doctors and technicians to see what is happening inside my chest that is completely unseen to the naked eye.

As you might expect, those thoughts led me to my spiritual heart and what God must see when He looks long and hard at its condition. Would those results be as positive? Would He tell me that everything in my soul was healthy and well? Would He say that He is pleased with the "meditation" of my heart, my intentions, my attitudes, my desires? (Psalm 19:14 -- "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.") I do not doubt His ability to see every one of those things. The marvels of modern medicine pale in comparison to God's keen vision. I try to convince myself that I can hide things that would displease Him, the not-so-good feelings or intentions, the impurities, and sins, but I can't. So many places in Scripture tell me otherwise. Here are a few:

1 Samuel 16:7b -- "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

Proverbs 21:2 -- "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart."

Jeremiah 17:10 -- "I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."

Psalm 44:21 -- "Would not God discover this? For He knows the secrets of the heart."

Perhaps you and I should imagine that every morning when we wake up, the Great Cardiologist has ordered some tests. We want results that would be pleasing in His sight.

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