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Pastor Bo Wagner

I feel blessed, really, that at 50 years of age I am not on any medication of any kind, not even for blood pressure. I have put a lot of work into that. I have lifted weights for more than nine years now; I run and walk; I only drink water or unsweetened tea; and, for the most part, I eat rather healthily.

But I have found that there is one instance in which my blood pressure tends to be rather dicey, and that is when my blood pressure is being taken for something important. Usually, that means every two years when my commercial driver's license must be renewed. If one fails that blood pressure test, the hard-fought-for CDL is gone instantly. That provides for the worst circular paradigm; being stressed over a blood pressure test and thereby raising your blood pressure for the test. It tends to get even worse by the added stress of being in a doctor's office, filling out forms, waiting in line, basically most all of the things I hate.

Even at home, though, sometimes my wife's concerned eye and tone raises my blood pressure as she approaches me with the arm-squeezy device. Yes, I know that it likely has a technical, proper name for it. No, I do not care; saying "arm-squeezy device" makes me happy and lowers my blood pressure.

Anyway, she recently purchased a brand new arm-squeezy device for our church, along with a good bit of other health-care items for our nurses and EMTs to use as needs arise. And, sure enough, I was the first victim/guinea pig for the blood pressure thingy, my other favorite name for it.

I was as calm as a cucumber; it had been an excellent week of workouts and healthy meals, and a relatively stress-free day, which sort of thing is rare in the ministry. And as an added bonus, as she slipped the arm squisher on my arm, she said with alluring admiration, "Your arms are huge!"

Life was as it should be, and I sat back in the chair, closed my eyes, smiled and waited for the "brrrrr" of the motor to start up, thereby inflating the squisher and checking my clearly perfect blood pressure.

"Please be quiet, and keep your arm by your side," came the unexpected voice. I jolted upright; I did not know this thing was going to start giving me verbal instructions, much less in a voice that made both Dana and me say, "It sounds like a female Baymax!" (the robot from Disney's "Big Hero 6"). But I had a test to pass, so I quickly closed my eyes again and told myself to relax.

And then the music started.

I did not ask for music, at all. And yet my female Baymax blood pressure arm-squishing thingy was, without provocation, playing elevator music for me. I loathe and detest elevator music. I could relax better to "Eye of the Tiger" or "Holding Out for a Hero" than to elevator music. I grimaced, took another deep, calming breath and focused once again on relaxing.

Then it talked to me again. I don't even know what it/she said, I just know I had the overwhelming desire to smash it. But smashing things makes my blood pressure go up, so I refrained. Finally, it was over as I felt the "whoosh" of the air leaving the squisher. But just seconds later, "Babemax," as I decided by that point to name her, said, "Your blood pressure is 126 over 84. You are in good health."

No thanks to you, Babemax, no thanks to you.

It always seems to be the unexpected things that throw us off track. A bill that was higher than usual, a diagnosis that took our breath away, a visit to a graveside of one far too young to die, a change of circumstance that undermines all of our plans for the future. It can be anything; we humans do not do well at all with the unexpected. And that is one reason I am glad to know Jesus Christ as my Savior. Leaning on the omniscient Son of God who is never taken off guard by anything is excellent comfort on the days and in the situations where I am compelled to lift my eyes heavenward and say, "I wasn't expecting that one, Lord. What do I do now?"

The answer always comes. And somehow it always seems to boil down to the words of Hebrews 13:5, "For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Or to put it in words repeatedly spoken in song, poem and pulpit, "I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow."

I also know that the blood pressure thingy/arm-squeezy device would be way cooler if, instead of the Babemax voice, it could be the voice of Liam Neeson saying, "If you don't calm down, high blood pressure will find you, and it will kill you."

If anyone patents that, I expect royalties.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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