My head was reclined and my jaw pried wide open. What seemed to be a large piece of a popped latex balloon stretched from gum line to gum line as metal instruments clanked in my mouth. Three bespectacled faces crowded my view as the dentist, his assistant, and a trainee peered into my mouth. What a wonderful way to spend a morning!
As far as dentist visits go it was pleasant enough…well, except for the whole yucky tasting numbing gel, the brain piercing sound of the drill and the unnerving feeling of just how close to your brain they are working. I am not a big fan of going to the dentist, but I am an even lesser fan of my teeth hurting. Honestly, my current dental office is exceeding gentle and kind so I really should be better about those pesky checkups.
Today’s visit brought to mind one particular dental visit I experienced many years ago.
I was having a perfectly normal day at work when all of the sudden one of my teeth, a molar in the farthest recess of my mouth, decided to let me know it was there. It seems insufficient to say it was a toothache. The intensity of the pain brought all of my day’s plans to a halt. Within minutes I was in the dentist chair of good ole’ Dr. Patch.
Dr. Patch was an elderly gentleman who sort of reminded me of that Tim Conway character from the Carol Burnett Show, you know, the one who shuffled around incompetently, minus the incompetence of course. Dr. Patch settled me into his chair and began to investigate the source of my discomfort. It did not take long for him to locate the culprit. One poke from his little metal hook and I slid out of the banana shaped dental chair and landed on the floor with a thud. “Oh, sorry about that.” he said as he and his assistant helped me back into the seat. Apparently I had a rather large cavity on the backside of a back molar.
“Well, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news” he pronounced. “The good news is I can make that pain go away, the bad news is I’m going to have to take that tooth.” The fact that the idea of him pulling a tooth did not even remotely concern me gives you an indication of just how uncomfortable I was. “Dr. Patch, you had me at “I can make that pain go away,”” I replied.
I have no memory of what happened after that. I’m pretty sure a considerable amount of laughing gas was used. As my head began to clear following the procedure, I noticed the dental assistant snickering to herself as she busily cleaned up the work area. “What’s so funny?” I asked. Apparently, while under the spell of the gas, I professed undying love to sweet Dr. Patch. I was so relieved to be free of my pain that I uttered, “I just love you so much Dr. Patch.” over and over again with tears of joy rolling from my eyes. The assistant no longer even attempted to hide her laughter as she recounted my proclamation of affection. Let’s just say it was a tad awkward when he reentered the room.
Who wouldn’t love the one who has taken away a painful burden?
That is one of the reasons why I love God; He has taken away the burden of my sin. I love God because He loves me enough to forgive me of my sin and provide a way for me in this life. Sometimes the relief of knowing I am out from under the weight of the eternal consequences of my sin is overwhelming. I find myself crying with joy and praising Him, especially when I’m in church, singing praises and hymns. Yet, it is also common for me to forget how much grace I am given. When this happens, I find myself acting less like someone who loves the Lord and more self-centered. I always want to be aware of the greatness of His mercy and grace. I never want to stop loving Him with a love that is as sold out and service oriented. I want to live out my love for the Lord with the passion that flows from one who has experienced great relief!
I think each time I brush my teeth from now on I will consider His mercies, remember His grace, and start my day mindful that I am out from under the burden of my sin.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together in Christ (by grace you have been saved)” Ephesians 2 :4&5