Lesson From A Tooth

Have you ever had a tooth pulled? I hadn’t…until this week. After paying for two separate x-rays and spending, oh, maybe 5 minutes each with two different dentists, it was determined that a tooth that had been bothering me for some time was cracked and needed to come out. Thankfully, it’s in the back of my mouth where no one can see it. (I have no desire to give my grandchildren nightmares of their toothless granny. 😊)

My husband told me it wouldn’t hurt, that he’d had two teeth pulled as a young teenager when he had braces put on. Remind me not to believe him about medical procedures! I was a little nervous because about ten years ago we went on a mission trip to Honduras and I watched the “dentist” pull teeth. Her instruments were a bit scary (think: pliers off your dad’s tool bench, like something out of horror movie!) I also remember one of our team members having to literally hold down one patient while she pulled out four teeth!

At any rate, my experience was a little more sanitized but there’s just nothing good about having a tooth that’s been “putting down roots” for 50+ years be yanked out, even if your mouth is numb from two shots of Novocain. There was a moment when I wasn’t sure I could endure any more pulling and was just about to make my anxiety known when the tooth released and came out with force. Ouch.

So why I am telling you such a personal story?

When I pondered, later, about the difference in my experience and what Todd remembered of his, the thought occurred that the roots of my tooth were probably a lot deeper than his as a teenager. Mine had more years to grow. Even though the tooth was bad, the roots still held.

What a great spiritual illustration. One day, the Bible says that all those who have placed their faith in Christ will be “caught up” together in the clouds to meet the Lord. We refer to this as the Rapture of the church. The Greek word is harpazō; the meaning is to snatch out or away, to pluck or pull by force. When Jesus descends from heaven, both those alive and those who have died in Christ will be plucked up and removed from this world in a forceful way.

Whatever roots you’ve put down here aren’t going to be able to hold you. The Spirit of God is far more powerful than my dentist and his pliers, and yes, this is a spiritual event, yet with physical results, because our bodies will not be left here. They will be changed, in the twinkling of an eye, into their immortal, glorified state. (I’ll have perfect teeth!) Your roots are coming up and whatever you may be hanging onto in this world will fall away.

Do you long for that day? Are you anxious to meet Jesus in the air?

If you aren’t, perhaps it’s because you’ve put down too many roots; they’ve grown too deep in the things of this world, and you are tethered too tightly to this life.

I want to live the rest of my days with a tenuous hold on this world, just enough to sustain my physical life. When I hear that trumpet, I want to leave this world without any painful roots holding me back. I want to go with enthusiasm. I don’t want Jesus to have to painfully and forcefully yank me out of too many distractions.

I hope and pray (and strongly believe) that our day of departure is soon. If you belong to Jesus, look up, my friend. This world cannot hold you, so don’t bother holding on to it.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. (Titus 2:11-13)

There’s another lesson here, one that isn’t so positive. The extraction of a tooth leaves a hole! It is messy, and at times, bloody. My mouth feels different; my tongue is confused. I can’t eat on that side of my mouth. Things aren’t the same, and they never will be. I’ve been scarred.

When Jesus takes us home, the world is going to notice things are different. If we’ve lived as we ought to live, the world should miss us. There will be a big hole where once there were people who loved Jesus and loved others. Hopefully, our words of hope and grace and the gospel will linger, and begin to take root in those who have not yet placed their faith in Christ. I pray that the reason for my absence is noted and that the gospel makes sense to those I leave behind.

The gospel is as simple as A-B-C.

Admit you are a sinner and your need of forgiveness (repentance), recognizing the consequences of your sin, which is death.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to pay your sin debt, and rose from the grave, conquering death to give you eternal life.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Confess your faith in Jesus Christ and His Lordship over your life.

That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. … For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10,13)

Salvation is available for all, but it must be received. Jesus’ invitation must be responded to and acted on. Jesus is my blessed hope, and the One I can’t wait to meet in the air. I pray that He is your hope too.

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