I remember it like it was yesterday. I was practicing with my high school basketball team. Nothing all that rough happened. It wasn't like I took an elbow to the jaw or anything like that. But, all of a sudden, there was this hard thing in my mouth. I immediately spit it out into my hand to only discover that a filling had come out
Now, I have to tell you, it felt like there was this Grand Canyon in one of my teeth. It didn't hurt, but this hole felt sharp and deep. Even though my head said to keep my tongue away from the hole, I just couldn't. It seemed to move there all by itself. Investigating this new thing in my mouth.
So, with all the advanced thinking that any teenager possesses, and using all the extensive dental training I'd received so far throughout my life, I did what seemed to be the only logical thing to do.
I popped in a couple pieces of chewing gum into my mouth. And after a couple of minutes to get them nice and juicy, I pushed that gum into the place where the filling had been. Right there on the basketball court, I'd made my very own temporary filling. Pretty neet, huh.
Well, at least I thought so. That is, until I went to the dentist. As I got into the chair and he was leaning me back, told him about the part about the filling falling out. But somehow, I must have forgot all about the filling it with chewing gum part.
Perhaps the reason I remember this historic part of my life so very well was the expression on his face when he pulled his metal probe out with a giant wad of chewing gum on it. "What's this? he exclaimed. "Oh, I must have forgotten to tell you" I said with great innocence in my voice. "After the filling fell out, I chewed some gum to help it."
"Help it? he said. I could tell he was less than pleased with my spur-of-the-moment creative solution. I could also see that he was doing everything possible to hold back his anger and volume so as not to alarm any of his other patients in the waiting room.
The rest of the visit was carried out in total silence. He picked, and he picked, and he picked to get all the chewing gum out of the now missing filling space in my tooth. He put some liquid on a small cotton ball and rubbed all around and over that now gumless area. He made the filling stuff and carefully put it into the now clean hole in my tooth.
As he raised the chair and took off that bib around my neck, he stared at me with that look you get when someone wants to just smack you silly, but's holding back with everything they've got. "Go on, get out of here" were the only words he said. I took the hint and made for the door quickly and quietly. We never spoke about it again.
Looking back now, the four familiar words, "What was I thinking?" rings through my head. How could I have been so stupid? So foolish? Yes I had a problem, but my reaction and actions created more problems than the original thing that went all wrong.
And this is exactly where and how God meets us. He must cringe when he sees some of the things we do and say. I know there are times where he's trying to get our attention, to stop us from hurting ourselves, our relationship with him and one another.
But he'll never turn totally us away. When we come to him and admit our wrong, he's faithful and just to forgive all the dumb, stupid, and outright rebellious things we do. But he doesn't stop there. He cleans us all up(1).
Wow, isn't that good. But it get's better. Rather than just standing us up on our feet, he wants to walk with us all the days of our life.
Now, as good as our dentist may be, none of them come home to be with us There's not a dentist on the planet that wants to watch over us and every bite we take. But God does that for us and our life here on earth and all eternity. He sticks with us even when we try and pull away from him. He's that good. He's that God.
(1) 1 John 1:9