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The gospel under the dentist’s drill

Lord Jesus, You suffered immense pain on the cross, in all ways, so much that, in it’s absolute undeservedness, You absorbed the full wrath of God, and now here I am, uncondemned, and I want to feel like I’m in a spectacular, wonderful light!!! I want to feel like, “WOW!!!”

Lord, today I went to the dentist for a cleaning and there were cavities. God, my fears of the dentist just about pummeled me. They did pummel me. I took the filling, but it’s just an uncontrollable physical reaction! It’s unpredictable pain, a supersonic grinding into my nerve endings in my bones in my mouth, and it makes me swallow rapidly and shut my eyes and breathe eratically and clench my fists and pray, “GOD! I! NEED! YOU! I NEED YOU GOD I NEED YOU GOD I NEED YOU GOD I NEED YOU I NEED YOU I NEED YOU!”

I was so disappointed in my inability to handle this pain that is so small compared to Christ’s sufferings. Lord, You have shown me, though, that there is sanctification that can be done by Your magnificent Holy Spirit within me in ANY SITUATION. There is no situation (provided it’s not me willfully partaking of sin; for example, this isn’t possible in the act of adultery) that Your Holy Spirit cannot use to further sanctify me, to deepen our relationship, to make me more holy, more in the image of Your Son.

God, what is the gospel under the dentist’s drill???? Lord, what is to Your glory in the dentist’s office?

Some thoughts did come to me as I desperately screamed prayers in my mind under the drill:

1) Someday this will not be necessary. The initial take-away from that was that this was a passing thing; this too would pass, as Crystal texted me earlier (God bless her!); I would get over this; I just needed to roll with this punch like I was learning to roll with other punches. Christ Jesus died 2000-some years ago on a cross and, being fully God and fully man, made the sacrifice necessary for all of creation to be redeemed from the effects of sin. When He returns, the earth will be renewed, and creation will be as it was always meant to be. What we see now is a shadow next to that. Think of your favorite food–how it tastes, feels, and smells. Just the food of these new heavens and new earth will make that appear like dust. This is the gospel: that Jesus was Who He said He was and that He died to save us from this present darkness. This rescue operation can successfully pull You from the darkness now.

But now I see this: Right now, it is necessary. My tolerance for doctor-induced physical pain is laughable. As soon as I get into a non-predictable or new doctor situation that might involve surgery or cutting or prodding, I’m all shakes. I think I was traumatized as a child or something. But I look not to the reason behind my fear; rather, I stare with eyes popping out at the King behind my fearlessness. I must, for there is naught else I can do. No other alternative is available. Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone will take me through this fear; He alone will cure me of it; He alone will numb the pain where it must be numbed and allow the pain where it must be experienced.

Why do I have to experience jarring pain now, and in the dental office of all places? I have no idea. I have no clue. But I must remember that next to God I am like our old dog who, having an ear infection, looking terrified and fought fiercely to get away from the swab of medicine we had for her. The gap of intelligence between the dog and us prevented her from understanding what we were doing, or even how any good could come out of it (usually she was trusting of us, but in this case her eyes said, “Why are you trying to kill me?” The gap of intelligence between me and God is infinitely greater. This truth should completely change my life and its fears. Completely.

And yet, God, presented with this truth my mind may be temporarily comforted but my feelings of fear and anger and confusion and a desire to get out of this or cancel the next appointment RAGE within me!

Someday, this will not be necessary… but right now it is.

2) As Jesus was upon the cross, and the other criminal asked Him to remember Him in heaven, Jesus told the other criminal that that night they’d be together in paradise (Luke’s account of the cross). I believe during Jesus’ life He was constantly thinking about the cross that lay before Him, and that on the cross He was finally free, even from the pits of hell, to meditate on what was to come.

I don’t understand the cross at all–if I did, I imagine I’d be overcome with joy to the point of tears every single day and I’d not be able to shut my mouth about the timelessly good news that God has made a way for all our fears to be utterly ameliorated.

God, that is my precious prayer — that I might understand the incredibly riches of the CROSS; that it might phantasmically estinctify any fears of physical pain again; that it might send me to the dentist’s office or the hospital or my own cross with something that currently I lack. Currently, God, I am a fearful, cowardly man. Please make me into a fearless man who is properly fearful of You.

I’ll have another chance to meditate on this very soon — I have an appointment for the third and most complicated filling (this one requires numbing) this Saturday at 11am.

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