I went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago to have an old filling replaced. As it turned out, there were two cracked fillings and the dentist determined it would be best to replace them with a crown.
After much drilling (and gnashing of teeth) I was given a couple of Advil and sent home with a temporary crown.
As the Advil wore off, the crowned tooth began to throb.
For a couple of days, I continued damping the pain with more Advil, but as time wore on I found myself wondering whether I should get a root canal.
Let's do a little experiment: Go up to someone you know and suggest to them that they get a root canal and see what their reaction is. It will probably somewhat akin to suggesting they see a proctologist. Yet here I was, almost eagerly anticipating a root canal after a few days of pain.
I even said a prayer -- something along the lines of "Lord, You know I am in pain. And I'm sure you have a good reason for it. But if it is your will, let me have a root canal."
Then I fell asleep.
Next morning I has something of a revelation in the form of one of the most strange (and strained) metaphors I've ever thought up.
Here it is: Our Christian walk is like our teeth.
Hmm. I can hear you thinking. But bear with me. This works on so many levels.
As we go through life, bad things happen. Kind of like tooth decay. We can fight that any number of ways -- living "right," avoiding sugary treats (like prostitutes and drugs). We can brush our teeth (go to church) or even floss (read the Bible) every day. But still, painful things can happen.
Neither we nor our teeth were made perfect.
So, sooner or later we have to go direct to God or (my dentist will love this) the dentist.
We lift up those cavities and cracked fillings and have them fixed or replaced with crowns (don't even tempt me to go the crown of thorns route). And the pain goes away -- until the next time.
Being human, the first thing we do when the pain subsides is go back to business as usual. That doesn't mean we go crazy. We might be leading pretty good lives by human standards. But we don't really need God any more so we don't get Him involved.
So pain is kind of like God's calling card. When he needs us to get closer to him, he sends out a little pain and we show up and get a dose of the Holy Spirit (or amalgam). The more often we go the more likely we are to continue working with Him directly.
And even though we may want a root canal, dentists don't recommend them -- and for a very good reason. Once you have one, you don't feel anything any more. So if something happens to the teeth, you don't know it and the decay gets worse and worse.
I did go back to the dentist the other day and found out I didn't need a root canal. The dentist said there was part of that temporary crown that needed to be filed down just a little and the pain should go away in a day or two.
The dentist shipped the bill off to the insurance company.
I'm sure Jesus will cover it all.
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Bravo, Al. This is especially funny to me, since I am a dental hygienist. You certainly took a leap of faith with this one. It's quite a stretch to go from root canal to God - at least that was my first thought - but you did it beautifully and I enjoyed it very much. Good job! Yours in Christ, ladybug Karen
Oh, I'm sure He's got it covered too, Al. Great analogy! We do tend to wait until things get ugly before we take them to the Lord. And He wants to be part of our every day... all the little things too. Speaking of which... Lord, I sure do need the money to see the dentist. In fact, it's been time for a long, long time.