Bustin’ Some Teeth

Broken Shards

I broke a tooth Labor Day weekend. Within an hour I was in the dentist chair getting it fixed. Yes, I have a very accommodating dentist. A talented one, too.

First off, I should tell you this is a fake tooth. I’ve had caps on my top front teeth since I was a teenager. Those original teeth were nothing to write home about and beyond the hopes of standard orthodontia. So rather than go through life scaring children and small dogs whenever I smiled, I got them capped. I’m on my third set now, and when I broke one on a plum pit that Saturday morning I thought I might be headed for my fourth.

I called the dentist, wrapped the shard of broken off tooth in some Kleenex, took it with me to the dentist’s office and he did his stuff, fitting it right back in. Good thing, because I tried smiling at some children and small dogs on the way there and … well, let’s just say it’s a good thing the dentist fixed me up. I didn’t even need anesthetic. He just cleaned off the tooth and shard, slathered on some glue, and fit them back together. A little polishing and the tooth looked good as new.

Looking Good, Feeling Cracked

My wife looked at my tooth and said she couldn’t even tell it was ever broken. Me too. I looked and looked as closely as I could: not a crack in sight.

Then I ran my tongue across it and thought I felt something. I dragged a fingernail over where the broken bit meets the tooth and definitely felt a fault line. This is California, where we know something about fault lines. They’re not good. Still, I’m not going to get wigged out; the dentist told me he’s seen these types of repairs last 10 years, and that’s probably about when I’ll be ready for a new set anyway. All the same, I think I’ll try to avoid biting down on plum pits.

Lots of lives have unseen fault lines, though, mine included. People might look at my life and think I’ve got it pretty good, that it must be nice to have it all together. Great marriage,  a healthy son and daughter, and a wonderful career. All of that’s true and I am filled with gratitude for God’s blessings, don’t get me wrong!

But my life has cracks in it. I bet yours does too, so I don’t need to go into detail about my own. But like my repaired tooth, I’m not going to get worked up over my life’s fault lines. I have been repaired, restored even.

Perfectly Restored

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!'”

(Revelation 21:5.)

Jesus sits on the throne and is in the process of making everything new, including his people. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:1-10, our old bodies are to be shed and new bodies are to be given us, bodies that work the way they should. Not a fault line anywhere.

Yet physical faultlessness in the future isn’t all we have to look forward to. In fact, we have much more than that right now: “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14.) Jesus “has made perfect forever” – notice the past tense, and notice too that this perfection cannot be lost. What can this mean?

I think this statement of our condition – a condition that is now present yet also eternal – relates to the promise we see in Jeremiah 31:33-34:

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”

We are in that New Covenant with God right now, the one God made through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, the sacrifice for our sins mentioned above in Hebrews 10:14. We are currently and eternally perfect in our relationship with God because of what he has done, not because of our own efforts to smooth over our fault lines.

You have been restored to perfection because God is perfect. Praise God that he is, and that we are blessed to share in it.

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7 Responses to Bustin’ Some Teeth

  1. bekster081305 says:

    Amen.

  2. Jeannie says:

    This post got me thinking about a sentimental poem I heard read in a church women’s group some years ago. It was about a “cracked pot” that had very low self-esteem because it was cracked and imperfect, but it turned out that because water leaked out of the cracks when the pot was carried, it was actually watering the flowers along the path. The point was that the cracks were necessary for the good stuff to come out and make the world beautiful.

    Something always bothered me about that. I know there is that verse in 2 Corinthians about how the treasure (i.e. the gospel, God’s power, etc.) is in “earthen vessels” or “jars of clay” — and that that is necessary so that we will depend on God and not ourselves. But in the poem, the cracks/imperfections are what allow God’s goodness to show — whereas I always believed, and confess I probably still do to some extent, that God’s goodness shows in the good things we do, not the faults. Leonard Cohen (plug for Canadian artist here) wrote, “Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” That makes sense to me. But are the cracks also how the light gets OUT? (which is what that “cracked pot” poem seems to be saying)

    I don’t know if there’s a right answer here — or if I’m even asking a question that makes sense! Maybe I need to distinguish between cracks as in imperfections/weaknesses and cracks as in “sins”/wrongdoing. And maybe, like many things worth thinking about, it’s paradoxical. Anyway, it’s just something your post brought to mind.

    • Tim says:

      I see what you mean about the breakdown in the cracked pot analogy, Jeannie. I think you’ve hit on the problem exactly. Changing the metaphor slightly might shed some light on it (pun intended!).

      Instead of a cracked pot, perhaps we should think of a cracked and faded mirror. Christ smooths over the cracks, restores the brilliance, and our ability to reflect his glory – both its light and its essence – is possible because of the rejuvenating work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as new creations in Christ. It reminds me of Matthew 5:16 and 1 Corinthians 13:12 all smooshed together.

      Tim

  3. housewifetheologian says:

    Wow, Tim, great illustration–and from a dental appointment at that! I could really identify with this article in that I am so busy lately–with good, life stuff mind you–that I am feeling like my fault lines are going to tremor soon! I feel like I’m juggling a bunch of clay pots and am about to break them all. The blessing in reading blogs like this is that I am daily reminded of the gospel and the completely practical things of my life are totally transformed. Thank you for telling me again!

    • Tim says:

      “… the completely practical things of my life are totally transformed.” Great way to put it, Aimee. The fact that the Good News applies to and affects every single part of our lives is mind blowing to me.

      Tim

  4. Loved the connection between the tooth issues and the fault line that we have in our lives and how Jesus restores the faultiness!

  5. Pingback: Sunday Funnies – Google Oddities 3 | Tim's Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

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