Does it have to be painful?

Today I was “blessed” to make my semi-annual visit to the dentist. Why bother? You sit in a chair nearly upside down with a very stylish bib around your neck. If you’re lucky, you also get to wear some very fashionable safety glasses. These are necessary to protect your eyes from any flying shards of teeth, plaque, or calculus (not the math kind) that may be ejected during the cleaning process. I followed my hygienist’s advice (mostly) from last time. She told me to floss everyday. I made a conscious effort to do as she suggested . . . mostly out of fear that I would get a lecture on the finer points of preventing tooth decay, gingivitis, and gum disease. She was careful to scrape all the harmful things away from my teeth. She flossed for me. Finally she polished my teeth. The dentist came in for his 20 second poking of my teeth and declared, “I guess you can keep them.” My dentist, quite the comic.

Amazingly enough, my cleaning wasn’t as painful today as it has been in the past. No bleeding, no stuck instruments, no prying between my teeth. Perhaps my hygienist was feeling especially compassionate today. It was fairly pleasant. Okay, that’s a stretch. I got to thinking; isn’t going to the dentist just like our spiritual walk? The Lord spends a significant amount of time cleaning our lives. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes we bleed. Sometimes, when there is decay, significant work is required. At the dentist, it may include drilling. Just like the dentist (I think), the Lord does not desire to inflict pain on us for the sake of pain, it is required to get rid of the garbage in our lives that can hurt us, the things that will eventually lead to decay.

If we want to live as authentic Christians, we need to accept the cleanings the Lord provides on a daily basis. He plans are for us to prosper, never to harm us. God wants His children to live lives that glorify Him and reflect His workmanship in us. Oral hygiene and spiritual maturity both take time and effort, but the benefits are worth it.

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