I Need That Like…
…another hole in my head. Ever hear that line? Well, tonight, I have another hole in my head. Because after going to the dentist this morning, it was determined that I need oral surgery. Thankfully, it sounded like they could save my tooth, but the abscess measured somewhere north of large, approaching huge, and it wasn’t going away on its own. I have written about my childhood dentist, Dr. Stordock, in the past, and I have to give him credit for getting me through today without flipping out. He was a great, kind, gentle man who taught me to not be afraid of dentists. Who would have thought that later in life I would have been so prone to tooth problems and that those early days would have such an impact on my life as I approached 60?
Anyway, and maybe it was a “God thing,” appointments were two weeks out to have the procedure done. Then, while Janet and I were there this morning, we were advised that there had just been a cancellation for today and I could get this surgery completed this afternoon. I opted to go for it and get it behind me. Oddly, after the initial appointment this morning, the pain really started to come in waves. By mid-afternoon, I was sure that I had made the correct decision. And by now, you know that I don’t do doctor stuff lightly.
Anyway, the doctor attends the same church we do, lives 5 minutes from our home, attended the same college in Illinois that I went to and was kind enough to speak to me during the entire procedure. Of course, as with all things medical where I am concerned, a one hour procedure turned into nearly two hours and I walked out with more sutures than the average patient.
I’ll spare you the details of today’s procedure, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the times that I have been in similar situations in the past. Like the time I had my tonsils taken out under a local anesthetic – no fun – or the time that they sutured my left little finger back together after I cut it down the middle when I was dating Janet. My brother-in-law Randy was with me that day, and helped get me to the doctor who put my finger back together. I even re-lived the day that Jill and I were in a car accident and we were both rather seriously hurt – requiring sutures to close up Jill’s pretty nasty head wound and to re-construct my right ear.
It’s odd to me how I recalled all these different events when I was out of control and at the mercy of people who knew far more about a given subject than I did. Thankfully, it is all over and I just arrived back home. The recovery may be a little slower than I would like, but I can handle that.
You know, today reminds me of how much I dislike being out of control. Even though I was ready to have the procedure done, because of the pain, I also had time to reflect on the fact that we are not in control of anything. God is the one in control, and no matter how many times I learn that lesson, something always happens that re-affirms my need to be reminded that I’m not the one on the throne in heaven.
Paul needed similar reminders in his life. He suffered illness, shipwrecks, prison and a host of other events confirming that he wasn’t in control either. Sometimes, God is pruning us, but other times Satan is trying to distract us from our appointed mission for the kingdom. In one passage of Scripture, Paul speaks of his “thorn.” This last week, I have dwelled quite a bit on the constant irritation that I have dealt with. Of course, I realize that I am not alone. Janet struggles with her RA, and many of my friends deal with other infirmities that are constant reminders that we are mortal and deal with human weaknesses.
The verse for tonight is Paul’s lament about his “thorn.” We are told, in 2Cor. 12:7-10, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Now, to be honest about it, I haven’t mastered the part yet about delighting in weakness. I still dislike it when I don’t feel well. In fact, I don’t know if I will ever get used to it. My encouragement tonight is to let you know that having our human infirmities is a constant reminder that we are not in control. That’s God’s realm. My prayer is that you will put your trust in the Lord and know that He puts together all things for good – even if we can’t see it from our vantage point. Who would have guessed that I would have met another Christ follower – from the same church, no less – while going through something as distasteful as the surgery I endured today? Even in the midst of anxiety and concern, God sent me a very welcome surprise. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…