I woke at 6:00 this morning with the nagging realization that I’ll be in the dentist’s chair within the hour. I silenced the alarm turned around and thought of better things – like ice cream or South African biltong. Ten minutes later the snooze button revolted and I had to get up.
I stumbled to the bathroom and activated my electric toothbrush. Eradicating the mess – I scrubbed extra long, hoping to fool the good dentist. It’s all about presentation! Unfortunately, as you may well know – twenty minutes of rigorous cleaning will not give you a perfect smile it will not fill the cavities.
I crawled into the car and drove to the office. Once in the chair, the dentist stretched my mouth open like a bass. A light blinded me from heaven and I was exposed! Cavities and all, naked before the dentist. The man with the perfect teeth. Luckily he gave me some glasses to shade my eyes from the piercing light. He used his tools (I call them torture instruments) to fill up my wrongdoings.
While he was drilling and blowing and sucking and pulling my mouth ever wider I thought to myself that I could still have lived in ignorance. Pretending like there is no problem, I used to boast that:
1. I haven’t been to the dentist in 5 years
2. I have no cavities.
That all changed when my wife forced me to visit The Man, Number 1 was taken cared of and number 2 was exposed as terribly wrong.
This is so true of my spiritual life too. I can sometimes evade God’s presence and loving examinations – then I live with the conceit that I’m OK. The terrible thing with cavities is that they destroy your teeth long before you feel the pain. True for our spiritual lives too.
CS Lewis wrote about this in Mere Christianity, when he had toothache he says,
“I did not go to my mother,” he writes, “at least, not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists; I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth, which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie; if you gave them an inch they took an ell.”
God is not into just giving aspirin or in superficial tooth brushing. He gives us more – If we want it!
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11
My visit with the dentist is over and I feel better and healthier – a peace surrounds me. Now for the other cleaning!