Significant Lessons for Life from an Insignificant Visit to the Dentist

It was early December and I had a tooth that was giving me problems. I had been struggling to find a dentist I really trusted and so I had been putting off going for a rather long time. But I knew, with going into the holidays, that I probably should, at the very least, get this tooth checked out. With dread, I pulled out my phone and called a highly recommended dentist office.

“Oh, we can get you in today! Can you come at…?” The friendly woman said on the phone. I have to admit: I did think that was a bit…strange.

But I just wanted to get it over with and so I took the appointment. When I got to the office, I found a clean and well-run office full of friendly faces. Everyone was incredibly nice. I got as comfortable as one can be in a dentist chair as I waited for the dentist to come in.

Imagine my surprise when a girl came in who looked to be a teenager and introduced herself as my dentist. I am sure she wasn’t a teenager (obviously) but she looked incredibly young. She took a million extremely uncomfortable x-rays and then proceeded to tell me that I had eight cavities (eight!!!)

I reeled in shock. No, I hadn’t been to the dentist for awhile. But I also hadn’t had any new cavities in years and years. Not since I was in my twenties. This seemed very odd and just a little suspicious.

When I went to check out and they asked me to schedule the dental work, I told them I’d call them later. I knew I had to get a second opinion.

So I went on a search for another dentist. God kindly brought a name my way through a series of circumstances that I couldn’t have orchestrated myself. I called them. They couldn’t get me in until January 30, but they would see me earlier if the pain got desperate.

I pulled out by black walnut oil, started using it, and prepared to wait. (A squirt of black walnut oil mixed with a bit of water and swished around in the mouth is an amazing relief for tooth pain and is even said to rebuild enamel? I don’t know if that last part is true, but I do know the first part is!) My tooth actually started to improve a bit and so the waiting wasn’t too terrible.

Finally, yesterday, the “big” day arrived. At 7:30am on a Monday morning I got in my car and headed to a new dentists’ office. (Could there be a worse time to go to the dentist??) On the way there, I considered my expectations. I surely expected to have a few cavities. But I was really hoping it wasn’t eight. But the girl could have been right. After all, what do I know? She certainly knew more than me. Oh, well. It was what it was. And then I’d think about something else for awhile but find myself right back to that circle of thinking a few minutes later.

With relief, I pulled into the parking lot and was just glad to finally get this over with. At least I would know.

Again, I walked into a clean and well-run office full of friendly staff. I had barely sat down when a man walked in and introduced himself. He proceeded to take a few minutes to get to know me and to talk about my teeth. He examined my teeth, took a bunch of “teeth” photos and a few x-rays. And then came in to talk to me.

“You don’t have eight cavities. But we do have some old fillings that will need to be repaired or replaced,” he said and then proceeded to share with me his thoughts on how best to go about this.

Again, I found myself reeling with shock in a dentist’s chair. Only this time it was a happy kind of shock. I had gone from EIGHT cavities to ZERO. Just by visiting a different dentist.

What the second dentist said made sense. It made sense, given my dental history. It made sense, given the state of my mouth. It just made a whole lot more sense.

And, oh my goodness, the life (and spiritual) lessons we can learn from this incident!

First, we cannot underestimate the value of experience. In a situation like mine, there should have been a consultation between the young dentist and an older, wiser dentist. We live in a world where experience is thrown out like an old rag. Where education is all-important. In fact, a friend recently told me of a situation in her own workplace, where an employment education prerequisite was put in place a few years back and how, in pushing out the older, wiser folks, it destroyed the care of their patients. Education is good. But experience is better.

That’s a good lesson but the next four are better and way more important when we consider our lives as believers. I hope you will keep reading!

Second, we must not be so gullible. If someone declares something that doesn’t sit well or seems off, we need to persevere in finding out the truth. Dishonest people promoting a false narrative or doctrine prey on people who just believe what they are told. If it seems off, we must figure out why. We can do this by, as I did, going to another doctor or dentist with a good reputation. Recently, in our family we had a similar situation where something was going on with their health and they were told it’s nothing and to just go home and get used to this. Thankfully, this advice was not heeded and a second opinion was sought. What was found out was that it was indeed a big deal and who knows what would have happened had this person not sought that second opinion. Our lives may depend on not being gullible.

So, too, our spiritual lives may depend on not being gullible. We can’t just assume that everything labeled “Christian” is actually Christian. As believers, we get our “second opinions” by reading and studying our Bibles and by counseling with older, wiser believers who know their Bibles really well. The Bible is our authority in biblical Christianity. If it doesn’t match scripture in context, it is not true. Beware those who would pull verses out of context and twist them to their own desires.

Third, it’s so important we don’t get “nice” confused with “truth”. Nice is good. I appreciated the niceness of both of those dentist offices. But one spoke truth and one did not. Niceness had nothing to do with it. I hope, as believers, we are nice people to be around. That we are kind and thoughtful and loving. But we can’t judge what is true and what is false based on whether someone is nice or not. That is irrelevant in this battle for truth.

This seems so basic and yet, just the other day, someone told me a conversation they were having with someone regarding “a person that was so nice, they just had to be a Christian”. And, yet, this same person appeared to have little spiritual fruit. There are an awful lot of “nice” false teachers. There are even more “nice” lost people. Niceness is nice but it is irrelevant in determining what is TRUE.

Fourth, “closer to the truth” will deceive far more people than “farther from the truth”. I honestly believe that the young dentist–if she was deviously trying to deceive me (which I actually do not think she was)– would have deceived me if she would have told me I only have three or four cavities. This is why false teaches are often so tricky to spot. They don’t leave orthodoxy completely behind. They just throw in something completely false that is believable to the undiscerning Christian.

Satan is not stupid. He understands that Christians won’t gobble up a sermon with “eight cavities” or untruths. But he does know that they may believe one or two.

Fifth, and finally, knowing history is a wonderful help in discerning the true from the false. I suspected the report of the first dentist because of my history. I understood that what I was told at that appointment just didn’t go with what my dental history was.

Oh, what a great reminder this is to us that we must also understand that much that is pouring into the church today goes completely against church history (keep in mind that I am referring to genuine church history not the history that includes the false Catholic church). If we know even basic church history and the traditional beliefs of the true church since its inception, it will aid us in spotting the deception that is taking place today in tsunami proportions all around us.

I can think of no other time in history where heresy is infiltrating churches like it is right now. And I have been noticing a hardening of hearts. People who profess to know and love Christ just don’t care. It is sad and disconcerting and so very disturbing.

I pray that as serious followers of Christ who seek to love and obey Him, we will not follow the crowd or simply believe every message we hear. I pray that we will be a thoughtful, studious people who know the Word and desire to know God above all else. And I pray that God will protect us in this time of massive deceit and outpouring of spiritual lies.

Only God can guide and protect us. His is the only opinion we need. And He will never fail us or forsake us.

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