If God Were A Dentist, Would He Say To You, "Open Wide"?
May 8, 2021
The, "If God were a dentist," thought came to me a few days ago and caught my attention. I wondered: "Is God speaking to me about my next article, or is my imagination just out for a stroll?" I don't want to forge God's signature to anything that's solely me.
So I've been praying about this and I seem to be sensing a go-ahead from God. So let's see where I can go with this, keeping in mind that I'm using the mouth (actually what comes out of it) as a reflection of the heart – the inner us. Jesus said, "For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Matthew 12: 34, NIV). Or in line with what I'm writing, the mouth is full of what the heart is full of! Open wide!
Have you ever been to the dentist? Do you look forward to it? It's a whole lot better than it used to be. But do you worry in advance about what they may find? "Open wide. Hmmm. Aha!" and then to their assistant: "Hand me the hammer and chisel." Just kidding!
I came away from my last dental appointment with a good report, and I don't have to return soon. I got a good mouth report. However I heard about someone who was recently informed by their dentist that they're going to need a, "root canal." Ouch! Just hearing the words, "root canal" makes my butt pucker and my wallet begin to whimper.
OK. Let's take this over on the God-side of life. The mouth is a big deal. I suspect you have discovered that. Remember Proverbs 4:23: "Above all else guard your heart (the storehouse for the mouth) for it affects everything you do," and I might add, EVERYTHING WE SAY. Proverbs 13:3 says, "Those who control their tongue will have a long life (Maybe even a long marriage!); a quick retort can ruin everything." Have you discovered that? In the book of James in the New Testament James makes the bold statement: "We all make mistakes, but those who control their tongues can control themselves in every other way." Every other way! Wow! Might this be an incentive for parents to help their children learn to control their tongues while they are still young, including not talking back to their parents in a disrespectful way. It may lay the foundation for the children to control their lives in every other way as they grow up. A tongue out of control may be evidence of a life out of control. Ask teachers! James continues: "...the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire, and the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life" (James 3: 5,6). That is, unless God gets a hold of it. He's the mouth specialist. God asked Moses during a discussion on the mouth: "Who makes mouths" (or who made the mouth? (Exodus 4:11a)
Now discussions and writings on the mouth turn very quickly to swearing and "foul" language. That's understandable. Jeff "Bro" Olsen got it right in his article in last week's paper. "Swearing is the Most universal of Languages," when he penned, "Swearing is natural." I learned to swear, "cuss," if you prefer when I was in grade school and my dad, probably unknowing, reinforced it. I still remember most, if not all, of the swear words I learned and used growing up. When's the last time I swore? I'll guess a month ago. Usually it has to do with pain or dropping things because my hands are numb from chemo treatments. Giving my life to Christ when I was 18 began to change my reponses to pain.
But! But! In my opinion, and from observation, there are more damaging words than swear words although swear words may be used. I'm referring to words that are leveled against others in such a way that relationships are damaged, maybe even destroyed. Proverbs 11: 9 warns us that,"Evil words destroy one's friends" (and I might add, families) but we get the other side in the second part of the verse: "...wise discernment rescues the godly." Did you catch the word, "Godly," in there? Our words are spoken out of some orientation to life. Language is learned; we don't come out of the womb with words on our tongues; including the young lady, Brandi Levy, that Jeff raises up in his article.
Families can be torn apart over hurtful and accusing words leveled against each other; probably with some volume. Proverbs 15:1 reminds us: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger." I am convinced that how we express anger is greatly influenced by the home we grew up in. How did our parents express their anger to each other, and to us? What kind of words were used and with what emotional intensity. Some grandparents never get to see their grandchildren due to a split between them and their adult children that might have been avoided with different words on both sides!.
God can change this if he's invited into the conversation. Two things we can be sure of: (1) God believes in reconciliation – the Cross of Jesus dramatically illustrates this (2) God is pro-family. He's worth seeking concerning the issues that separate us. Healing may need to begin with him. If God has never been brought into the conversation in a family, it needs to happen; in my opinion even beyond professional marriage or family counseling. In church this morning, (5/2/21), I was moved concerning broken family things by a verse in the old hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Verse 2: "Oh, what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." This is a song written for Christians, but it's also an invitation to give one's life to Christ. I also saw something on the big screen in our church that I just felt moved to write down on the cover of my bulletin. Maybe I wrote it down for you. Here it is: "May his (God's) wisdom guide you when you are talking." I'm seeking this all the time. I get my mouth in trouble real easy with words.
The healing of a broken relationship may need to begin with one side reaching out to the other in humility. Maybe something like this: "I want to ask your forgiveness for anything I've (we've) done or said that has broken our family, can we be a family again?" Those can be healing words. When it comes to love and restoration God made the first move with us. In 1 John 4: 10: "This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." Restoration involves sacrifice on someone's part.
I think we need to come to grips with the reality it may all come to a head at a funeral. I was with a family one time while I was doing my hospital chaplain training at Loyola Medical Center in Chicago. I was called to a room where a 40 year old wife and mother had just died from cancer. The whole family was there except for the husband. I was informed that the husband had been very abusive to his wife for a long time. Finally he arrived. He took one look at his wife's body, fell to his knees with his head on her chest and sobbed, calling out her name: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, please forgive me." I hurt for him but there was nothing I could do. Words that fracture a family should never end this way. Do something while there's still time!
Now in closing, a few thoughts about swearing, "the universal language." Does a "foul" mouth ever add positively to a person's life? I'm especially concerned over words that profane that which is sacred. Like, "God," "God damn you", "Jesus Christ", used as swear words. How about the "F" word? God created sex to be sacred and to be kept within the bonds of marriage. The conception and birth of a child is sacred. Think about this the next time you have the joy of seeing a newborn baby. The "F" word profanes the sacred. How about some of the milder forms of the sacred. I want to honor the God who made my mouth: to thank him by the way I use it. Don't forget the third commandment: "Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God" (Exodus 20:7).
If God were a dentist, and he said to you, "Open wide," what would he find all the way down to your heart? Would he recommend (through the Holy Spirit) an "abstraction?" King David went to God and "Opened Wide" before him: "Search me, Oh God, and know my heart: Test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life" (Psalm 139: 23, 24). I try and pray this prayer every day.
Until next time,