Lessons From The Dentist’s Chair (Part 3)
A couple of weeks ago I underwent the most dreaded and traumatic of suburban nightmares: I had to go to the dentist. I was struck with several lessons from my experience that I wanted to share. This is the 3rd such post; the first 2 can be found here and here.
I am currently coping with a hole in my life. Actually two holes, on the right side of my mouth. I am learning how to exist sans my right two wisdom teeth. But those holes remain as a reminder of the ordeal I had to endure.
When my wisdom teeth were removed, I opted to have the procedure done at the dentist rather than go to an oral surgeon, meaning I would not be put under or given the “funny gas”. I was numbed, but wide-awake for the process as my teeth were extracted. The first one was not a problem, but my lower wisdom tooth had a hang-up, literally: the root tip was bent at a 90° angle, dug in deep into the tender gum, and nearly impossible to pull out. In spite of the numbing, it was quite painful as the dentist had to work to remove the stubborn tooth. But ultimately, that pain had to be experienced for the sake of a healthy mouth.
As we begin the New Year, that thought has hung with me. This is a time of resolutions for change. Yet most of these resolutions will be abandoned by the end of the month. Why? Because the change is “too hard” or “too painful” and people just give up. Or they refuse to set solid goals because they are afraid of failure and in so doing, set themselves up to fail anyways. It is an annual cycle of mediocrity.
Spiritually speaking, we all have sin we allow to persist in our lives. Time and time again we may try to tackle it on our own, but ultimately the pain of change is too much, or we justify it away so change is no longer needed. (And let’s be honest, most of those New Year’s Resolutions, at their core, are addressing a “minor” sin issue that we refuse to acknowledge as such and relinquish.) Sin has a tendency of putting its roots in deep, and the longer we fail to address it, the more painful the process of removing it becomes.
The old cliché says “No pain, no gain.” It is a cliché for a reason: there is truth in it. God is working to remove the offensive and destructive habits that have formed in our lives through His discipline and sanctification. I can promise you this: there will ALWAYS be pain involved in that process, but it is also ALWAYS worth it! Somewhere along the long we became spiritual wimps, too comfortable for our own good, with greatly diminished pain thresholds. We need to realize that with God, the pay-off is ALWAYS worth the price paid. I can’t really word it any better than the author of Hebrews, who had much to say on this topic: No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
What New Year’s Resolutions have you made for 2011? What has caused you to abandon your resolutions in the past and what are you going to do to make this year different? How badly do you want change? Is it worth enduring some pain to achieve? How is God disciplining you currently and what sin does He seek to remove from your life?