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If you know me, you expect me to draw some lesson or ponderings from my root canal experience last week, some correlation with my faith.  But, of course!  Far be it for me to disappoint.

The whole reason for my root canal was a dead tooth with an abscessed root.  That is just plain nasty.  Infection set in and caused pain so I finally took action.  There was definitely a problem that needed fixing or I would keep hurting and possibly even face more serious problems.

I went to an expert, a man who’s gone to years of schooling and obviously had lots of practice already performing this endodontic feat of fantastic-ness.  He was quick, confident, and kind and I felt I could trust him right away.  He knew what he was talking about and what he was doing.

His assistant was just as sharp, right there with every tool he needed at the right time.  They worked together like clockwork, in tandem, to finish the job for me and get me all fixed up.

There were a few foibles, like one time the assistant accidentally dropped a tool and they had to get a clean one.  Then a particular tool kept malfunctioning and causing him to have to repeat small steps until he got a replacement that worked properly.

I was wishing I could watch the whole procedure from their point of view, I’m sure it was interesting although pretty gross.  I kept wanting to ask him, “What are you doing with that?”  “What is that for?”  “What does that do?”  I just find it fascinating.  However, since my mouth was propped open with a foam block and completely covered by a rubber tarp-like contraption, talking was out of the question.  Very frustrating for someone like me who loves to talk and ask questions.

I’m really thankful endodontists exist and that they have such skill.  That first shot of Novocaine was wonderful.  Finally some relief from the pain!

Okay, now for the correlations:

There is a serious problem deep inside very person: sin.  It causes death.  Unless it is removed and taken care of, we are never really whole and will suffer from it.  We can deny it’s there and try to ignore it, but it becomes a nagging sense of emptiness or bothersome pain.

We can’t extract the sin from our own hearts ourselves any more than I could have done the root canal on myself.  I needed someone who was capable, knowledgeable, and skilled.  I needed someone with a different, better perspective who could see what was going on and see how to repair it.  Jesus has the skill, power, and ability to forgive and wash us clean.  No one else can do that for us.

Just like the dentist used the sharpest tools that functioned the best, Jesus uses those of us who stay sharp and near him, ready and willing to be used by his expert hands.

I didn’t realize how badly I had really been hurting until the pain was gone and I felt relief.  I didn’t realize the extent of the dead tissue and yuck until the dentist opened up that tooth and told me.  When he told me what he saw I was even more glad I was finally getting some help.

I think we don’t often realize how much we need God’s forgiveness and healing until we’ve received it.  All of the sudden we see how lost we were, how steeped and saturated with sin’s infection.  Kind of like a child who doesn’t think they need a bath until they’ve had one and then see all the dirty water going down the drain.

My tooth was dying and having problems long before it started giving me a painful signal that there was trouble.  Temptations, selfishness, and other weaknesses in our human nature can start causing decay in our hearts and even death inside us if we’re not carefully paying attention and examining ourselves.  God will help us do that, too.  He has the perspective that enables Him to look inside and perform just what’s needed to heal.

Just like King David prayed so long ago, I’m praying again tonight,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; [examine me for any signs of infection]
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 Point out anything in me that offends you, 
      and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”   Psalm 139:23-24  NLT

Wash me clean from all of my sin and guilt.  Psalm 51:2  CEV

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