This week, my dentist and I have worked to compensate for the continuing deterioration of my teeth, all part of the natural process by which my earthly body gradually sloughs off parts that will not be needed for my final flight to Heaven.
In Heaven, an all-new body will be provided, one which we are not told but presume will not be subject to tooth decay and arthritis and hearing loss.
Thursday, Dr. Jim sent me to the lab across town where I left a piece of my confidence–well, okay, a bit of dentures–alongwith instructions to the lab on what they were to do. Twenty-four hours later, I returned to pick them up, presumably allowing me to resume a more or less normal existence.
The laboratory is an interesting place. Not laid out to impress visitors, this is a working space, upstairs, reached by something much like a fire escape. The few desks were unoccupied at the moment, but were messy and crowded with papers and sacks and boxes. Along several rows up and down the large room were literally hundreds of plastic trays, each holding a work order along with molds of teeth, dentures, bridges, etc. It was an ugly sight, I’ll tell you.
It occurred to me that I was seeing the smiles of a thousand people. When these dentures reach their destination and are properly in place, the owners will flash winning grins at the world and exude confidence. Only their dental professionals will know for sure that the teeth are store-bought and the confidence was engineered.
Near the dental lab sits a building that makes no bones about its purpose. The sign says “Plastic Surgery.” There is a sense in which what the dental lab is doing is something akin to cosmetic surgery.
On the sign outside my dentist’s office, underneath his name, is the motto of the business: “Smile with Confidence.”
Having gone a full 24-hours without my appliance, I can surely vouch for that. That morning, while missing part of my teeth, I made a call on our mechanic to see about a matter. My wife said, “Don’t worry about Rick. He’ll never even notice.” And, as far as I could tell, he didn’t. Or more likely, he noticed but didn’t care.
Recently I read about some women who left their home in the Baton Rouge area to drive to the 40th anniversary celebration of their high school graduation. The car was filled with laughter and reminiscences. They laughed about who had been members of the cheerleading squad, wondered who had been majorettes, discussed who would be there today, and thought about which of their class might be too insecure to show up. Suddenly, the driver threw on the brakes and made a U-turn.
“What are you doing?” someone called.
The lady at the wheel said, “I forgot my teeth!”
These middle-aged debutantes were brought back to earth in a hurry.
Nothing humbles us like the realization that we have something to hide.
Mark Twain once said everyone is like a moon, with a dark side seen by no one else.
Christians, even though redeemed and “new creations” (as Paul called us in II Corinthians 5:17), are not perfect. We all are still sinners and fall short daily. And, it’s no stretch to say that none of us would want to show our dark side–our sins–to those we love most and respect the greatest.
“He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14). The Lord is under no illusions about us. He has seen our dark side and loves us still. All our secrets are laid bare before Him–and we love it that way.
He knows us as we are and loves us still. He loves us as we are, but loves us enough not to want to leave us this way.
This is why scripture makes so much of confessing our sins to God. To confess means “to say the same thing.” When we confess to the Father, we are hiding nothing, trying to keep nothing concealed. No secrets before Him.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
This is the source of our real confidence, the loving relationship with the Father through Jesus and the daily strength and cleansing we find in Him and only in Him.
“Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God….” (I John 3:21).
In this life, we will always have secrets from one another and that’s all right. No one else needs to know that winning smile of yours is the result of hours upon hours in the dentist chair and a few thousand dollars spent getting those teeth straight or even replaced. That’s your business.
But teeth or no teeth or flawed teeth, God wants His children confident before Him and before the world to which He sends us.
The Lord is not glorified or pleased when we tiptoe into our assignment, fearful of rejection or frightened by opposition. He said to Jeremiah, “Stand up and say to (the kings, officials, priests and people of Judah) whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them or I will terrify you before them” (Jeremiah 1:17-19).
God has not given us the spirit of timidity or cowardice or fearfulness. If we have such, we cannot blame it on Him. Instead, He has anointed His servants with power and love and a sound, disciplined mind (II Timothy 1:7).
So, let us go forth with confidence and even boldness, fearing nothing but the displeasure of the Almighty.
Well, I’ll leave you now. I need to brush my teeth. The ones remaining have to last me until the trumpet blast.