Perhaps it was the two excruciating hours I spent in the chair – or maybe the lack of sleep worrying about the two hours – but I had a spiritual experience in a dental office today.
As she began chipping my front crowns away for replacement, my mind went back to the day they were first put on. I was 19yrs old. A few weeks before the accident, my life took a 180 degree turn from being an opinionated, agnostic teenager to a loved crazed Jesus follower – literally overnight.
The sudden shift from party-girl to church-attender was a bit of a shock to people who knew me. Everything about my life changed. All I wanted was to know more about my new found Savior. I wanted to learn how to live like the people I once mocked and now deeply admired.
My early obsession was to hear the voice of God like others said they experienced.
The day of my accident I heard it – unrecognizable at the time, but clearly his voice.
Without going into great detail, the Holy Spirit warned me not to go sailing that day. It was a deep sense that grew more intense the closer I got to the small sailboat at the shore’s edge. The thought amplified to the point I was certain, if I went along – someone would get hurt.
I ignored the unfamiliar voice, and placed my foot into the boat at the same moment a rogue wave hit it, throwing me forward and knocking out my front teeth.
My salty body surfaced from the sea with a blood covered face and hands raised high to the sky. Unashamedly I praised God – MY Savior, the one who speaks.
On my way to the doctor’s office he spoke again. The Lord softly told me, “My sheep know my voice”. It wasn’t until weeks later I learned this was a familiar verse from the Bible.
I don’t ever want to forget that day.
Lent began this week.
I came home from my dental appointment to a blog in my inbox from Jennifer Dukes Lee. I read about her decision to give up looking in the mirror until Easter in order to refocus her attention from herself to Christ. My heart was pierced. Just moments earlier, I was plotting how to avoid all human contact until the permanent crowns came in. I had been glued to my mirror all the way home, fixated on my ugly temporaries.
Jennifer’s words became a mirror to my brittle soul.
I want to return to the same innocent pursuit I had when my teeth were knocked out. Nothing else mattered to me, but his voice. I didn’t care what I looked like or who saw my toothless smile.
As crazy as it sounds, I was sad to say good-bye to my old crowns today. In some strange way I felt I was losing old friends. Although they have been a part of me for a long time, they’re NOT me, not even my real teeth. They’re space holders, in place of the real thing.
I believe today was a sneak preview of what’s to come. One day I’ll shed this temporary outer covering altogether, all my space holders.
We will take nothing with us when we go – none of the stuff we’ve accumulated or grown so familiar with – including our bodies. Today – now – is a good time to begin saying good-bye to the things we cling to. Things we THINK define us.
Lent helps to reposition our thinking, reevaluate what we cherish, and tear down the idols we’ve comfortably welcomed into our hearts. Imagine, old teeth coverings – one of my idols.
Thank you for covering your mirrors today, Jennifer. Thank you for turning a mirror toward me, so I could clearly see what blocks my view of seeing who I truly am – his beloved – his treasured sheep.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29