"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, May 28, 2005

My Spiritual Dental Cleaning

I was awake before the alarm sounded. In fact, I had not slept soundly all night. After all, I had a dental appointment the next morning and my nerves were twisted around it's own synapses and ganglions and neurons and all those other things that are in there. Plus, in the few anxiety free moments I had during the night, I was trying feverishly to think of an excuse to cancel the appointment which was not only believable, but one that I had not used before. I have used the family illness excuse for everyone in my immediate and distant family, the unexpected business trip had been used more times than I could possibly remember and I could not be ill again unless it was some South American Amazon disease which was yet to be discovered. Murphy had been accused of eating car keys, the appointment card, erasing the voicemail reminder, and throwing up everything from the feather duster to the living sofa. Basically....I was stuck.

Now, it is not that I don't like my dentist or hygenist because they are both very nice and competent professionals. I have never been hurt or spent any time in serious pain because of them. The thing which causes me such stress is the unknown, mysterious, unexplainable malady which I am sure they are to find when I open up and say "ahhh".

Girding up my loins (which means wearing my comfort grubby clothes), I drove to the office, signed in and attempted to read. Of course, the magazine I selected had an expose' about how some medical school abused their cadavers, which helped my frame of mind. After a too brief delay, the hygenist called me back to (da-da-dumm) THE ROOM. We exchanged the obligatory small talk and she began. When I first opened my mouth and she looked in without screaming, I began to feel better. Then, as she began to poke and look around in there, she made the comment about "well, things look pretty good". At that, my internal organs exhaled in relief and I could settle down for the cleaning.

I have good teeth, not perfect by any means, but they are good. Except for the one time in second grade when I thought one of those little explosive caps was candy, chomped it and ended up with six less teeth for awhile, I have always taken good care of my choppers. But, they do need a good professional cleaning a couple times a year.

As I lay there listening to the hygenist talk about what she was seeing and doing, it occurred to me that the process of having my teeth cleaned is very similar to how God has dealt with me at times of my life. My spiritual walk is probably not a lot different than yours in that we do well for a season, then we need a period of spiritual cleaning. And sometimes that cleaning gets a little rougher than others.

The normal stains that occur during the day can be easily brushed and buffed off. Occasionally, there may be a stain or a piece of tartar that brings out that nasty metal pick that needs to give some extra poking and cleaning. Then there are the times when decay is found and major work needs to be done by removing the bad and replacing it with clean material.

I realized that the strain and stress of everyday living can bring some stains and smudges on my spiritual walk. It might be a missed quiet time, a sharp word spoken in anger, watching a television program that we know is not the most appropriate, or putting off something God has wanted me to do. However, in most cases like this I can clean my heart up by confessing it up to God and spending some quality time in looking for His guidance and strength.

However, there are times where we do not take the time to clean up these daily things and they begin to eat into our hearts and send their evil and nasty roots through all areas of our life. Again, the television programs, the movies, the music, the dialogue and jokes we listen to and in which we may join, the websites we may visit, the people we hang out with and so many more areas where God is hidden under the smudge and tartar of our hearts. These are the times when the more serious work needs to be done once God finally gets our attention. I have been in situations where God has had to deal with me in some quite serious ways. The longer I would allow inappropriate behavior to continue, the harder it was to purge it from my life because of the stronghold it had gained. And the thing is, God certainly had the power (and the love for me), to force these issues out of me, however, I had to do the hard part and make the decisions and face the consequences. But, when the period ended, my Father was there with the healing balm of His Love and Care for me.

Just as the drilling and digging may be required to rid my teeth of harmful things, so is the chastening and work of God to rid my life of harmful things. My dentist does not give me a big hug when they finish, but he does always pat me on the shoulder and ask, "are you okay, bud?" That is a comfort. However, nothing compares to the presence of a welcoming God after a period of spiritual cleaning. And I usually learn my lesson in both situations. Brush, floss, read my Bible and do what God wants of me.

And this my friends, is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's!


At 1:19 PM, Blogger Layla said...


Great analogy. I've always enjoyed going to the dentist (I know...I'm a freak) but next time I show up for a cleaning I will remember your story.

Don't forget to floss!

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

Oh Jimmy,

You gave me the shivers when I read this post. I don't like the dentist and I dread when I have my appointments. I am going to make a confession here and now... I dislike the dentist sooo much that I went 17 years without setting foot into a dentist's office. (just so you know I took very good care of my teeth and the dentist didn't believe that it had been that long since I had visited a dentist.) I can't believe I just broadcast that for the world to see.

Good analogy, sometimes there is a lot of build up that needs to be chipped away.

At 1:25 AM, Anonymous tess said...

Hello, you don't know me, but I was searching for something and stumbled upon your page. I really like your analogy, and it was something I needed to hear (read) as well.
It is really refreshing to see that there are still people who are intelligent, know how to write, and don't leave glaring gramatical errors, and love God too. So often among the people I meet it seems that the two are mutually exclusive. Anyway, thank you for the encouragement and keep up the good work.



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