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How Far Is Too Far?

by Kimberley Tagert-Paul

You aren’t supposed to giggle when you’re in an MRI machine. 

For those of you who haven’t had the privilege, let me explain. It’s a long, narrow tube surrounded by huge magnets that whirl, pound, and make a big racket. Basically, it’s like taking a trip to outer space—inside of the jet engine! Its intent is to get a clear picture of the inside of your body. Your face is literally touching the top of the tube while the rest of your body is touching all the other arcs, and even doctors often have to be sedated to be inside. It takes claustrophobia to a whole new level. 

There are new machines that are vastly more open than the one I was lying in. The problem is that they are very powerful. So much so that they can pull implanted metal from your body. With five hearts stents, they weren’t an option for me, so I was sent to the oldest and most closed-in machine the hospital had.

The one thing you are supposed to do inside the MRI—besides not panicking—is to lie absolutely still. Then and only then can the machine send back images to the technician of the body part the medical staff is trying to examine.

In my case, this time, it was my brain. 

“Lie perfectly still,” the technician ordered as she slapped a face mask over my head. I closed my eyes and felt the hard, narrow table I was lying on slide into the darkness.

I tried not to giggle. I really did. I bit my lip. I prayed. I tried to think of something else, but I was losing the battle. 

You see, I had just eaten a hamburger. A real hamburger. 

The only problem was, I’m a vegetarian. Let me back up a bit.

I had just had a stroke. Arriving at the hospital in the early morning, I hadn’t eaten yet that day. By the time they got me settled in my room it was 7 p.m. After making sure I could swallow without choking, the nurses insisted I order some supper and handed me the hospital’s menu. I took it in my good hand, and perused the offerings. I didn’t want to eat. It was the last thing I desired at that time, but they weren’t taking “no” for an answer.

That’s when I saw the “veggie burger.” Well, how bad could that be? I planned on sharing half with my husband. A quick phone call, and voila, one veggie burger was delivered to my room. I promptly cut it in half and pushed one part toward the side of the plate near my husband.

After prayer, I clumsily picked up said burger with my right hand and nibbled at a bite. It actually tasted . . . well, good. I finished my half and encouraged my husband to eat the other half.

“Are you sure that’s all you want?” he questioned.

“Eat up.” I insisted. I lay back against the pillow. 

I laughed when he lifted the bun to look the burger over. He poked it with a fork, then took a sniff. I watched as he took his first bite, amused at his antics.

Next, he grabbed a napkin and politely spit out his bite of the burger. Then, in a serious voice, he informed me that for the first time in 40 years I had just eaten something that mooed.

That’s when they came with a stretcher to take me for the MRI.

I thought about what my sons were going to say. I knew they would laugh. Raised vegetarian, they had chosen to eat differently when moving into adulthood. There’s nothing wrong with that, but knowing how careful we were, I knew that they would get a kick out of what I had just done, unknowingly. 

So I lay in the MRI and tried not to laugh.

That’s when it hit me. 

We have come so far with our meatless technology that it is sometimes hard to tell the imitation from the real thing. I simply hadn’t known the difference.

I had recently walked though the freezer section of a health store looking at the newest vegetarian offerings. I was shocked to see packages that contained imitation shrimp that looked like the real thing, and right next to it was “lobster,” complete with some unknown source shaped like it’s leg. You had to actually dig the “meat” out just like you would the real thing.

And therein lies the question. 

How far is too far?

How far do we use the technology that is available to us to “imitate” the world?

Now, you know I’m not just talking about veggie “meat,” right?

As young people, you have embraced the newest technology with gusto. You are often glued to your smartphone . . . admit it. Entertainment is prevalent and available 24/7. I’ve seen young adults sit next to each other and instead of talking, they text each other. Not a second of your day is spent in quiet or boredom any longer. 

Technology has come so far, a computer can print a 3-D object. Nothing seems impossible anymore. 

Is that a bad thing or a good thing?

We have the gift of a truth that is beautiful. It comes from a book you can now read on your smartphone. This truth holds the answer to every question the world wants answers to. It contains the comfort the world seeks, the fulfillment of the longing the world feels tugging at its heart.

The truth of God’s Word is perfect. It is complete. It doesn’t need an imitation. 

So why do we spend time trying to walk as close as we can to the world?

God has clearly shown us that the grass is not greener on the other side. On His side of the fence, things are beautiful and perfect. We just don’t always see it because we are busy looking at it though the most modern technology the world has to offer.

I’m not saying that advancing technology is wrong. It’s useful in many ways. My own iPad recently died from a bad case of “road rash” after my husband left it on the top of our van and it slid off five miles down the road, much to the amusement of the car full of young people behind us. The two weeks I waited for our insurance claim to be processed and said technology to be repaired and resurrected were long weeks without information I was sure I couldn’t live without. Guess what? I lived.

Technology changes and advances every day, however, God’s truth is unchanged. The beauty of God’s plan for our eternity remains the same. We just get too distracted to always remember that.

Even Jesus’ own disciples had trouble understanding. 

“Christ gave to His disciples truths whose breadth and depth and value they little appreciated, or even comprehended, and the same condition exists among the people of God today. We too have failed to take in the greatness, to perceive the beauty of the truth which God has entrusted to us today.”*

However you come to the truth, come. Whether you read from God’s Word on your iPad, your smartphone, your laptop, or the old-fashioned way of picking up the printed word, just do it. The beauty of God’s truth is unchanged. It will never change. He has the answers to the questions you seek, that those around you seek. He longs to share His beauty with you, but you must decide that the distractions of the world aren’t worth losing truth for. 

He calls. Will you answer?

They say imitation is a form of flattery.

Laying in a cold, hard, loud MRI machine showed me that that saying isn’t always true. Imitation can sometimes confuse us, keeping us from the thing we are actually seeking.

There is no imitation for the beauty of God’s truth. 

*Ellen G. White, “It is Not for You to Know the Times and the Seasons,” Review and Herald, March 22, 1892.Kimberley Tagert-Paul writes from Muskegon, Michigan. She is a freelance writer and author. Her most recent book, Fruit of the Spirit, was published by Pacific Press in January 2015. The book is about the fruit of the Spirit and is the latest in the “What Adventists Believe” series

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