The Dentist Chair
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind."- II Timothy 1:7
I had a breakthrough moment last week! I overcame a fear, tackled a giant, and left behind a terrible childhood experience. This transformational triumph didn't take place at a Sunday service, at a men's retreat, or in a personal time of prayer and reading the Bible. I was set free in a dentist's chair! Now, for some that may not seem like such a big deal, but ever since I can remember I get nervous beyond measure when it is time to get the teeth checked and cleaned. I have had what you would call a series of unfortunate events at the dentist which include: barfing on a street in Brooklyn after getting a mold done for a retainer when I was nine years old; having an alternate procedure to remove a wisdom tooth in my twenties; and experiencing excruciating pain at one cleaning as an adult that I treated the dentist office like a nuclear plant that was unstable.
As I lay in bed on Monday night I was feeling restless, blaming Joanie for scheduling my visit, and having some serious reservations about my Tuesday morning appointment. After a few pathetic ideas and excuses that could get me out of my teeth cleaning, I decided to suck it up and take my medicine. I figured that the best route was to tell our dentist about my unease and my teeth being too sensitive for a regular cleaning, which would allow for the option of having my mouth numbed during the agonizing procedure. Yet, something unusual happened as I waited in the chair. I WAS CALM. Without any instructions or medications the cleaning happened with no pain and no panic. In twenty minutes I was out of there with a sigh of relief, a big smile, and a newfound strength. With this type of breakthrough, maybe I am finally ready to tackle my fear of heights (well, maybe that is for a future Daily Bread article)?
As I share about my dentist chair breakthrough I can't help but think that there are many others who have fears from childhood keeping them small or who have a great deal of unrest keeping them awake at night. In Isaiah 26:3 we are told the wonderful result that can come when we trust in the Lord, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You." There may be some who struggle greatly with anxiety when on a job interview, because they had a bad experience of speaking in front of the class. There may be a parent who is terrified to leave their kids with anyone else, because their parent(s) abandoned them when they were young. There may be a person who cannot get their mind off their money challenges, because they grew up in poverty. There may be a dear brother and sister in the church who is struggling to trust God and get close to Him, because they were once burned by a spiritual leader. There may be a person who keeps on sabotaging the good things that happen in their life, because they only associate success with disappointment and inevitable failure.
May this be the day that you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit reassuring you, inviting you to take a seat in the chair of dread that you have longed to avoid, and imparting in you such a level of peace, strength, and hope that you are made free. You're chair may not be at a dentist office, with a big light, sharp cleaning tool, and a person wearing a mask and gloves, but there is a place God wants to deliver you from. For some it is the chair called "money"; for others it is the chair called "control"; for some it is the chair called "family and friends"; and for others it is the chair called "tomorrow". Today you are being given a choice: You can keep avoiding the area in your life that makes you afraid? Or you can ask the Lord's help to release His grace and presence in a way that you are able to live in victory? That area that seems too big, too difficult, and too painful can end up being one of the most healing moments and amazing testimonies in your life!
If someone would have told me a month ago that I would go to the dentist, sit in the chair, not ask for anything to ease the pain, and walk out of there with not even a hint of a problem, I would have said that it must have been a dream. May the Lord continue to meet us in those places that have been hard, in those memories that have been painful, and in those thoughts that keep us intimidated and defeated. The Lord is with you wherever you go, even at the dentist offices of life!