Going to the dentist is like going to church.
When you tell a friend that you have a dentist appointment he will cringe at the thought. But, you have been very faithful about getting to your biannual cleanings and checkup so you rarely have any major problems. Your dentist is pleased with how well you take care of your teeth and you feel good about that. However, it seems that reminder card for your six month cleanings come around faster than you like, but this time you put it aside promising to make the appoint and it is soon forgotten. The dentist can be easy to avoid. In what seems like no time at all you get another card informing you that it has been a year since your last cleaning and checkup. Again you just don’t get around to making the appointment and after all you do brush and floss every day and haven’t had any problems so is the biannual cleaning really that important? Eventually the cards stop coming because you have been placed in their inactive patient file. It’s all fine until you notice an uncomfortable feeling in your lower gum but you’ve had that before and it usually goes away so you ignore it. After a few days your gum has gotten a little sensitive to the touch but doesn’t really hurt so you write it off as a canker sore that it will go away in a couple of days. When it doesn’t you buy Sensodyne toothpaste and message that area with your toothbrush to increase blood flow to promote healing. You are now in full blown denial but not ready to admit it. A few more days go by, the sore tooth is getting worse so you finally admit that you have been in denial and begin taking a regiment of vitamin I, you know, ibuprofen, to reduce the inflammation and that seems to be working. But, a few days later your pain and discomfort continues to increase, and none of your home remedies are working, your denial is cracking, you are going to have to pick up the phone and make that appointment.
Going to church is similar, you attend every Sunday and you take it all in, the music, the pastor’s message, the prayers of the church and communion. You are there for the fellowship after the service and you take your turn serving coffee. You also participate in the service by reading scripture or helping with communion. You serve on committees and have done a stint or two on church council; you are fulfilled having taken part in the word of God. You discover how important the word of the Lord is to getting your week off to a proper start. But, something pulls you away from church, and you miss a Sunday, the next week you have been battling a cold and you feel it’s best to stay home and rest so you miss another Sunday. By the third consecutive Sunday you say to yourself, “I should go to church, but I can’t get myself moving this morning I will go for sure next week.” A month and half has gone by and you are sitting on your deck trying to enjoy a Sunday morning cup of coffee, but you’re feeling more stressed than usual, the sound of a lawn mower in the distance is bothering you more than it used to because it’s interrupting the backyard bird’s song. However, you’re determined to enjoy your Sunday morning because you need your time alone more so than normal. You know that you have had a short fuse lately but can’t put your finger on it, because the Sunday morning “me” time should help that. Then, something pulls you back to church, a baptism, confirmation, or a sore tooth if you will.
You enter your old familiar haunts and everything is just as you left it, oh, sure it’s only been a few weeks since you last darkened the doors of your church, but for you it seems like an eternity and you kind of expected everything to be different somehow. You immediately began to reconnect with the calmness that your church has to offer. Special attention was paid to the pastor’s message and it was exactly what you needed to hear, like the sermon was written just for you. Even the prayers of the church seem to pertain to how you have been feeling lately. Then, your faith kicks in and you realize that the pastor’s words were actually God’s word spoken through the pastor. It is then that you are hit with the truth that during your church absence coincided with your time of high stress and irritability where you were not getting your weekly dose of God’s word. However, you know in your heart that the Lord has never left you. Looking back at your long absence from church your focus began to shift from helping others to being more concerned about you and you alone. But during that time you also remember the Lords presence even when you were pushing him away. He has been there with all along, sharing your troubles and sending you signals that you were not ready to interpret so it was he who brought you back to church where you have received comfort through his word.
Your life is back on track now, the dentist has fixed your tooth, the hygienist gave you a good cleaning and you are pain free once again. Your sole has been cleansed, as well, by the word of God as you are back to attending weekly church. You can feel the living grace of the Lord flowing through you, empowering you to be more community minded and helping others, which feeds your Christian need to give.