Thursday, September 25, 2008

Toothy Truths

I would like to share this truthy mail forwarded by a friend but written by Maureen D. Eha

"I am not a particularly domestic type. If I have to work hard, I don't want to waste my energy dusting off tables that will look just as bad the day after I dust them as they did the day before. I want to work on words—positioning them, rearranging them, making them sing out the message God has laid on my, or someone else's heart. That kind of work makes a difference for eternity.

But there's one job around my home that, believe it or not, I enjoy doing—cleaning out the refrigerator. I just love pulling out all the jars and containers of leftovers, organizing what's still edible and throwing the rest away. There's something in me that likes to get rid of whatever's rotten to make room for what's fresh and good.

Recently the Lord showed me how essential it is for us to do this on a regular basis in our spiritual and emotional lives. So often we hang onto something that has long since gone bad, either because we have grown accustomed to it or because we think we cannot live without it.

But often that rotten thing—whether it be a doctrine we cling to, a relationship that is not good for us, an emotion that controls us, a job that stifles our walk with the Lord, or a secret shame or wound from the past—prevents us from making room for the new, life-giving thing God has for us. As it spoils, it becomes like a poison, slowly invading our system and hindering our growth in God.

I'll give you a good example in the natural. Several years ago my daughter, Caitlin, reached the age when children begin to lose their baby teeth, and one of her large, upper front teeth became loose. At first, it followed the usual course—just a slight wiggle when she pushed on it with her tongue. Soon, it moved back and forth more freely. Before long it was hanging, as the saying goes, by merely a thread.

At this point, the loose tooth had passed the point of inconvenience. It was clearly in the way, making it difficult for her to bite and speak. So you can understand why I was shocked by the protest she put up when I offered to pull it for her.

"No way!" she screamed, horrified. "It'll hurt! It'll bleed! I'll NEVER let you do that!" And she covered her mouth with both hands.

During the next few days, the tooth became progressively looser, but it didn't come out. I kept watching Caitlin trying to compensate for the disturbance it was causing in her life. She went through 10 napkins each meal because of the mess she got on her face while eating on only one side of her mouth. She avoided brushing anywhere near it. She lisped when she talked.

Finally, I became concerned about her swallowing it and decided to lay down the law. "No family movie tonight if you don't let me pull it," I told her. She hollered. She whimpered. She almost bit off my finger (by accident, of course). But when she reluctantly kept her mouth open for a single split second, I reached in and gently snatched the tooth out.

"Got it," I said. The look on her face was inimitable. She went ashen, opened her eyes wide and said incredulously, "What?!!!"

It was obvious she hadn't felt a thing. And oh, how much easier her life became! She could eat and talk and smile without interference. And in the place where the dead, rotten tooth had been, a new one was beginning to appear.

I got a secret delight out of having surprised her so thoroughly—causing all her negative expectations to come to naught. Until the Holy Spirit arrested me.

"How many times have you put your hands over your heart when I offered to remove something rotten that was spoiling there?" He asked me. "How many times have you been afraid to let me touch something that was a part of you—no matter how uncomfortable it was--for fear that My removing it would hurt worse? Or because the new thing I was offering somehow didn't seem as good?"

The Lord showed me that, just as I painlessly removed my daughter's tooth, making it possible for her to appreciate the new growth that was taking its place, He can take away the rotten things that are hindering us and provide life-giving replacements. And what He has to offer will make our lives so much better! The Bible tells us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17, NKJV).

Everything the Father has to offer us is good. Jesus made this clear when He told His followers, "'If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!'" (Matt. 7:11).

Knowing this is true, why do we protest so vehemently when the Holy Spirit offers to take away the bad? Let's give it to Him freely! Purpose today to relinquish everything that's rotten in your life so He can replace it with something good. Open your mind, heart and spirit willingly—no hands over your "mouth"—and watch how gingerly He performs the operation.

No comments: