What an Orthodontist can Teach You about Your Faith Journey

I am sitting here at the orthodontist’s office (Dr. Anderson) while Dietrich is getting his braces adjusted.  This visit is a “long” visit because he is getting some braces on some new teeth that have popped through the gums.  I’ve got a lot of experience with the orthodontist.  I had braces as a kid, Taylor had them, and now Dietrich has them. So, since I am sitting out here in the waiting room, I thought it would be neat to make some connections between our spirituality with God and the process of straightening teeth.

1. It is expensive.  As a parent that’s one of the first thoughts I have when thinking about braces.  They are not cheap!  Our faith is expensive too.  First, it cost the life of God’s son, Jesus Christ.  He died on the cross for our sins.  The Bible says we are to honor God because we were bought for a price.  Secondly, it costs us too.  Jesus said that whoever wants to follow him must take up their cross.

2. It is a process.  You don’t straighten out teeth in a day.  Both Taylor’s and Dietrich’s treatments lasted around two years.  The process is slow.  With each visit to the doctor a small change is made and with a twist here, a tug there, over time the teeth straighten.  Maturing in our Christian faith is a slow process too.  We move from being born, to being a babe in Christ, to a child, to a young adult, and then finally a parent of the faith.  This process takes time!  It’s good to know our God is faithful to complete the work he has started in us.

3. It is a process of stretching and healing.  When Dietrich first got his braces he had to wear an expander in the roof of his mouth.  Each day we had to twist a knob in it a half-turn to push his upper jaw outward.  What would happen is during the first 6 weeks we turned that knob the upper mouth was moved and slightly cracked really, and then after that we were done.  But the work of the expander wasn’t done.  What happened next was the expander held the upper mouth in place to allow it to “heal” in a new position, a healthier position for his teeth.  I think God uses the same process in us.  He takes us through times of stretching our faith.  We may doubt, go through a time of discipline, or confusion, but after he stretches us he then begins to heal us into a new and healthier position in which He can bless us.

4. It is about focus.  Dr. Anderson and his associates stress constantly about keeping your teeth clean.  They not only want you to brush 2-3 times a day but they also want you to use a water pick to spray out all the food particles on your teeth and brackets.  Likewise, in the Christian life we need to seek to stay clean and pure.  The Bible has a word for this, righteousness.  We honor God when we are clean of unrighteousness.  Our Christian lives are persuasive when we live life with excellence and back it up with our character.

5. It has smiles at the end.  Eventually the braces come off and you see the beautiful straight teeth.  I remember when I got mine off.  I kept licking my teeth because everything felt so smooth!  The other thing I did was smile. The braces were now off!  One day, the shackles of sin in this world and in our life will be taken off of us.  One day we will be in heaven and instead of licking our teeth (although I think I’ll be licking my chops at the great banquet) we will be licking up the presence of God.  Ok, that wasn’t too good of a metaphor but you get what I mean.  Ever have something so good you just want to lick the plate clean?  Some of you have actually done it!  Be honest!  Heaven will be that good.  It will be a place of smiles all around.  It will be a time of joy and freedom!  I cannot wait ‘til that day.  I am so jealous of the ones who have gone before me!

Have a great day and remember to brush your teeth!

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