Jun 162012

My dentist has a massage chair in his office.  I went to get my teeth cleaned this past week and had to sit in it while the dental hygienist stuck her assortment of torture tools in my mouth.  I guess the idea is that it is supposed to relax you while getting your dental “procedure” done.  Speaking from personal experience, I can attest categorically and undeniably that, it does not work.

I will admit that when I first sat in the chair and leaned back, it felt kinda good.  The tooth torturer left the room to prepare, so I sat there trying to relax.  But then she came back in the room, snapped on some latex gloves, and picked up a small, sharp metal spike.  I’m sure it has a more innocuous official name.  Something like “dental probe” or “tarter removal tool.”  But I’ve seen it.  I know what it is.  It’s a small, sharp, pointy metal spike and it’s headed straight for my mouth.

At this point, (yes, a pun) the relaxing massage chair is completely overpowered by the sight of that spike and the knowledge of the discomfort that is to come.  As the spike moves toward my mouth, every muscle in my body is the exact opposite of relaxed.  The scraping, the poking, the high pitched whine of the miniature pressure washer, all blow away any inkling of relaxation the paltry massage chair could hope to provide.

While I lay back in the chair, suffering the consequences of actually using my teeth to chew food, I realized  the futility of the massage chair.  It was starting to annoy me.  The stupid mechanical hands relentlessly kneading my spinal cord as if to make taffy out of my vertebrae.  I wished it would stop.  I wished the tooth torturer would stop.  And as the poking and scraping moved on to the pressure wash of pain, I wondered why God didn’t make people like sharks.

Why didn’t God make our mouths more like a shark’s, with rows of teeth ready to replace those that wear out?  If our mouths were like a shark’s, we would NEVER have to go to the dentist.  I am confident no one has ever seen a shark at the dentist office for teeth cleaning, much less a root canal.  Even if a shark DID show up, what dentist in his right mind would stick his hands in a sharks mouth saying “Now bite down?”  No doubt, if I had a mouth like a shark, I would not need to visit the dentist.  Sure, it might make french kissing my wife a bit dicey, but if it meant no more dental visits . . .   Maybe God should get some advice from me next time He decides to create.   Or maybe not.

Well, I admit God knows best.  Otherwise He wouldn’t be God.  I also figure God can, and does use these experiences to teach me something if I am listening.  So, in order to make sense of this whole dastardly dental deal, I have come up with three key points.

1) A simple pleasure or indulgence that can make you comfortable in the right context can be an annoying detriment in the wrong place or at the wrong time.

2) Sometimes in life there is pain.  Suck it up and get through it.  Yes, God could have designed a world with no pain, but in His wisdom, He saw fit to at least allow it.  Perhaps He has a reason for His design that goes beyond my puny human understanding.

3) Never french kiss a shark because a) it could be dangerous and b) since they don’t have to go to the dentist, we should refuse to allow them the pleasure of a loving kiss.  God designed that one for us.

Jun 192011

My son was ruthlessly attacked by vicious angry beasts this weekend.  He was just trying to do a good deed.  It made them angry, so they swarmed from the bowels of the earth and attacked.

At first Sam didn’t understand what was happening.  As he was mowing the grass, the pain hit him from out of nowhere and shot up with increasing intensity.  He yelled and writhed as he was hit over and over again.  He didn’t know what to do or how to stop the merciless, agonizing attack.

I heard his cries, looked and saw what was happening.  As the attack continued, I yelled “Run Sam!  Run!”  He was too tortured to hear.  I finally ran to him, guiding him to the safety of the garage.  Even there, one of the tenacious monsters still continued to cling to the sock around his ankle, inflicting wound upon wound.  He yanked off his shoes and socks then ran in the house, suffering in pain.

It made me so angry.  How dare these evil monsters attack my son with such ruthlessness.  I grabbed a can of wasp spray, dashed out the door, and emptied its contents on the yellow jacket nest.  It knocked down some, but still more swarmed around the nest.  I went for a second can, gave them another dose, then turned attention to Sam.  He had so many stings we had to take to the emergency room.

There are still some yellow jackets in that nest, but their time is very limited.  I will not rest until they are all gone forever.  They will suffer my wrath for hurting my child.  Tonight, while they are all in the nest, I am going to pour gasoline in their hole.  Then, just to finish the job for sure, I’m going to throw in a lighted match. 

Today is Father’s day.  On this day I think about what it means to be a father.   And as I plan my vengeance on those evil monsters that attacked my son, I realize my wrath burns so hotly because of the love I have for my child.  I also think about God, the perfect father, who has adopted as His children those who will accept Him.  Although I can’t pretend to understand Him, I do feel like I am beginning to have an inkling of understanding about “the wrath of God.”  It’s funny, but somehow now, it feels like love.

May 252011

I hate suffering.  Especially when it’s near me, and most definitely when it is me.  Unfortunately, many of us are called to do it.  I used to think that the only good suffering was the kind where I was suffering for being a Christian.  Persecutions and such.  Now I think there’s more to it than that.  There may be times when I suffer for Christ’s sake and don’t even know it.

Take the case of the man born blind in John chapter 9.  People asked Jesus why the man was blind.  Jesus said, “… so the works of God might be displayed in him.”  That’s pretty tough to swallow.  This guy was born blind and lived to adulthood without sight so that God could be glorified.  I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing this guy didn’t feel like he was suffering for God’s glory.  I’m betting there were lots of days, especially as an older child, when he was wondering why he could only sit and listen to the sounds of the other kids running and playing.   But even then, he was sitting there blind, for God’s glory. 

The day was coming.  A pivitol moment in history when this blind child had grown to be an adult.   Jesus would use this man to display his power and authority to the Pharisees.  The point where the line was drawn in the sand and people had to choose which side they were on.  By healing him, Jesus drew the line.  This man’s lifetime of suffering was the sand.

The point to me is this:  Sometimes I suffer for God’s glory and maybe I don’t even know it.  It doesn’t feel good at the time.  Nobody likes to suffer.  But whether I know it or not, whether I like it or not, it happens for God’s glory, and believe it or not, that is a priviledge.  Sometimes, I am called to be the sand.

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
     Phillippians 2:3-4

So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.”  He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
      John 9:24-25