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Until just a few days ago, I believed dentists were agents of good who only wanted to make the world an easier place to chew. Now, I know better. Now, I know, dentists exist simply to be used as sermon illustrations. Seriously. If you don’t have the Lord on your side I suggest passing on the next “routine checkup” you have scheduled.

I (used to) have pretty good teeth. In fact, I didn’t get my first cavity until my twenties, and that was in one of my wisdom teeth which was pulled 6 years later. So, I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal to go a year, two years, maybe eight between dental visits. I mean, it’s not like Erika and I had dental insurance or anything. Well, Erika has a good job now and we get dental insurance. So, after waiting 14 months, I scheduled an appointment when one of my molars chipped twice in one week. And, according to the x-rays, all those years of 2 packs a day and surviving off the sweet chemical nourishment of Diet Coke had an impact on my teeth.

The dentist of my first appointment only spoke broken English, so I left the office not knowing exactly what was going on in my mouth. All I was sure of was I required to schedule three follow up “emergency” appointments in a 9 day period. In the last two weeks, it seems as if I have gone to see Dr. Yung every other day. Most of the women working there and I are on a first name basis (in fact, I even have a new nickname: “becky” – don’t ask, don’t tell). One unique feature of my mouth is that it doesn’t react well to novacaine. This results in one shot, some drilling, and me leaping out of the chair with tears running down my cheek. Dr. Yung, always so polite, says, “did that one get ya, Becky? Well, let’s give ya another shot.” This additional shot results in my face being numb for (no kidding) four or more hours. The dental assistants kibitz about what a great patient I am, never complaining. They joke about the tough guy with all the tattoos. If I wasn’t busy trying to swallow my own tongue to end the pain once and for all, I would let them know that I am crying on the inside.

My first set of fillings, last Tuesday resulted in a root canal. Thank God, they were able to schedule it for the following day. My tooth was special. It had an extra canal. This resulted in a four hour procedure. By the end of the 3rd hour, Verenda the dental assistant was rubbing my arm, a look of worry in her eye, muttering, “ohhhhh Jesus, let him be ok, just let him be ok.”

Yesterday was my final appointment. Honestly, I’m not sure how many fillings they gave me. It was three appointments of two or more fillings per cavity plus the root canal. I think I ended up with nine; but, after all that drilling into my skull I have lost the ability to count from 1 to 10. My kids now like to play Treasure Chest with all the new “shinies” in my mouth. I look like Jaws from Moonraker. My upper lip on the right side is still tingling. I’ve averaged 12 advil a day for 9 days straight. Sometimes, I cry myself to sleep. But, this will all make a great sermon illustration one day, I’m sure. And what will the lesson be?

The Calvinists were right: God hates you.