An Extracted Truth
I was in the bathroom at work the other day brushing my teeth. I never wanted to be “that one.” You know the one who keeps the toothbrush in her desk and is in the bathroom after lunch uncouthly spitting toothpaste into the pricey marble sink? But there I was upon dentist’s orders to brush my teeth after “every single meal!”
I was given this directive (along with a lengthy laundry list of others) in order to avoid further irritating a riled up nerve in my mouth that is threatening to abscess. So there I was, leaning over the marble sink, the eyes of six-figure-salary manager looking on in disgust as I spit lather from my mouth like a commoner. “Why am I doing this?” I thought, wishing she would go away.
Why? Easy answer -- pain. Lectures from my dentist, common sense, memories of past root canals, and pricey dental bills all failed to force me into that bathroom to brush my teeth in front of my peers previously. A throbbing tooth provided me all the motivation that I needed. I realized that God often has to deal with us this way. We know we should not do something, but we suppress our common sense, warnings from others, and past consequences and continue in our sin. How often does our behavior go on unchanged until the pain of abscessing sin exposes the raw nerve in our heart? “That hurts!” we say, and the behavior is altered.
Thinking the little analogy would go no further, I was surprised that same night, over dinner that the metaphor took on even more depth. The dentist had also instructed me to “baby” the left side of my mouth. I had made a pizza that night and after the first bite, I realized it was baked perfectly -- just like I liked it. It tasted SO good! But after a few bites, I realized that I was very frustrated. In trying to keep all the food off my abscessing tooth, the food was not really hitting my taste buds. My nose smelled the food, a taste bud here or there was catching a little taste…but because I was not fully rolling it over all of my mouth, I was not satisfied.
I realized again how much that is like our spiritual walk. We try to live these compartmentalized lives. We push our spiritual stuff into the corner just under the tongue – enough for survival and brief moments of taste, but far enough away from our sin so as to not remind us that area of our heart is rotting.
We say we want to taste Jesus – but we don’t really want to take a huge bite and roll him all over our tongue. Because when the conviction of the Spirit hits that raw nerve that is painful! So we avoid the pain (or so we think) by “babying” our sin, and not letting Jesus touch that part of our heart. So while we have just enough of Jesus to keep our sustenance going, we do not have enough of him to say, “I have never tasted anything so sweet! I want more!”
This tooth is driving me crazy. It hurts. But now, each time I become aware of its throbbing, instead of complaining, I find myself marveling in the fact that God loves me so much, he can take something as simple as a toothache and use it as a means to point me to his glory. If we could train ourselves to see more of him in every little detail – we would be praising him all day long!