Lessons from the Dentist: Out with the Old & In with the New

Gratitude Day 495

Wed., Aug. 5, 2020

2 Corinthians 5:17 – So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!

Twice in the last month, I’ve been to the dentist.

This has not happened in YEARS.

When I went in for a semi-annual cleaning, a few weeks ago, I saw a new dentist. Dr. Dani is new to the clinic where I go. I think this is the fourth or fifth new dentist that I have had at this clinic. Quite honestly, it’s not the dentist that is important to me. It’s the hygienist that I stay with.

Sara has been my hygienist for, well, let’s just say a REALLY long time. It seems that when a new doc joins the clinic, she becomes one of their hygienists. And so, I get a new dentist.

My visits to the dentist are very, very mundane when it comes to dental work. Twice a year, I show up for a cleaning. Twice a year, Sara and I chat non-stop as we catch up on our lives. The dentist pops in for about three minutes, does a quick once-over at my teeth and waltzes back out the door, telling me they will see me again in six months. Sara and I pick up our conversation right where we left off once this little formality is over.  

It’s been this way for decades. Literally. The last time I had a cavity filled was when I was in the single digits.

Until now. Enter Dr. Dani. The few fillings that I have are old and not from the same type of material that is used in fillings these days. Dr. Dani felt it was time to remove these fillings that are old enough to vote a couple of times over and replace them with something new. Little cracks are forming in the teeth with the old fillings. New fillings would prevent further damage.

Out with the old and in with the new.

A new dentist = a new person looking at my teeth. A new dentist = new fillings.

I’m not sure what the average lifespan of a tooth filling is. I’m guessing that I probably got my parent’s money worth on those two fillings. And so, it’s time for a new set of fillings.

Today, I went into a different room with a different person assisting Dr. Dani. Everything went fine and about an hour later, I had two new fillings. For the next few hours, talking was weird and swallowing a liquid felt awkward because my entire mouth was numb. It’s a short-lived price to pay for two new fillings.

Out with the old. In with the new.

As difficult as change is sometimes, new can be good. Helpful. Important. Jesus said that we don’t pour old wine into new wineskins. Only new wine goes into new containers. Likewise, people don’t sew patches from new clothing into old clothing. Why ruin a perfectly new article of clothing?

Paul takes the analogy further. With the arrival of Christ on earth, EVRYTHING changed. He’s the new creation, the fulfillment of God on earth. Before Christ, it was about obeying hundreds of rules. Christ changed this. God and Christ become accessible to all. Jesus pools all the rules into two seemingly simple ones: love God and love your neighbor. That’s all.

While I see the new making more sense than the old, we often get hung-up in wanting the old rather than the new. We’re trying to patch a new and enhanced understanding of God into old garments. And almost ruining the new article of clothing.

I’m not suggesting that we overlook the Old Testament. The pre-Christ on earth stuff in the Bible is so helpful in understanding Christ. Holding the two in tandem IS important. Focusing only on one leads to cracks in our understanding of God. Seeing faith with a new set of eyes allows us to discover new things about God and ourselves. It enhances our faith … not limits our faith.

What’s most important about change and faith? Keeping our eyes focused on the One who is the basis of our faith to begin with. Falling back on the source of faith and making sure this remains the basis of all good things of our faith. When God is a part of change, we are assured that we’re never alone, even when change leaves us feeling numb.

We’re in a time when how we experience faith is changing. We’re being forced to re-examine what church is and what it means for us today. Rather than running away from these changes, let’s sit in the chair with God and allow God to speak to us. Daily. Regularly. Often. Even when words maybe hard to say and navigating these changes feels awkward, let’s keep ourselves grounded in the very One who gives us life. New creation. New possibilities.

For lessons about change while sitting in the dentist’s chair, I am grateful.

Blessings –

Dianne

Holy God – we find ourselves exploring what church means for us today. We are challenged to re-examine our old ways of thinking about faith and community and explore new wineskins of faith. New garments that connect with people. Encourage us to stay close to You as we navigate these changing times. Amen.  

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