I recently went to the dentist. It had been a while since my last check up too. Roughly two years.
Despite my daily routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash, the dentist uncovered two “very small cavities.”
The hygienist, who happens to be a friend of mine, read the look on my face and chuckled.
“It’s ok, Mere. You did everything you should do but sometimes, cavities still pop up. They’re small. We caught ’em early. They’ll be easy fixes.”
A week later, I went back to the dentist to have my cavities filled. It was a first time experience for me and no one had warned me that needles, the size of horse tranquilizers, would be involved.
Que sweaty palms, the shakes, and a stellar performance by my anxiety, and the dentist decided to delay the filling. Before I walked out of her office though, she prescribed me a mild sedative. “Take this an hour before you come back next week and make sure someone drives you here.”
Later that afternoon, after I was kicked of the doctor’s office for being a pansie, I ran into my hygienist friend and told her my sob story. She did not respond with as much compassion as I had hoped.
“Are you kidding me?” she asked. “Getting a cavity filled is no big deal! Everyone’s done it. And your cavities are so small, it would have been over before you knew it. The novocain was only for your comfort. You know, the longer you wait, the bigger and more irritated they will become and before you know it, you’ll need a route canal. Now put your big girl panties on and get it done!” she exclaimed.
Of course the next week, I popped the happy pill, got the cavities filled, and wouldn’t you know, it was a lot easier than I thought it’d be.
I feel like I do the same thing in life. I do my Christian duties: read my devotionals, post some inspirational quotes on Twitter and Facebook, and assume that what I did externally will take root internally.
The only problem is the Bible. Nowhere does it say, “A devo a day keeps conviction at bay.”
Devo’s, as encouraging as they may be, are a poor substitute for the Word of God.
Time spent, quietly listening before the Lord, and reading His word is a lot like going to the dentist. For starters, you prevented from speaking. As important as prayer is, how often do we forget it is meant to be a two-way conversation?
Secondly, while the poking and prodding of metal utensils in our mouths may be irritating, there is a valuable perspective that the dentist has. They can see weak spots. They can detect areas of corrosion and decay. They see where we are not brushing enough and where we are brushing perhaps too much.
It’s the same with God. Reading the Word shines light in the areas were we can’t see. Areas that we may not feel any kind of discomfort now, but are in fact slowly dying.
And just like a dentist, the Lord may say, “There’s a small cavity here, and before it becomes something painful, I’d like to deal with it now, so please sit tight.”
Nothing demonstrates more grace or greater mercy than a Divine Dentist saying, “Hey, mind if I take a look around? I’ll be gentle. I just want to make sure you’re OK.”