Does anybody spend time thinking about wisdom teeth? I sure didn’t. I never had them taken out as a teenager and never gave them a passing thought until four years ago. A dentist in North Carolina I went to over 15 years ago told me to get them removed but I just rolled my eyes. “They don’t hurt,” I told him. He replied, “That’s why. Get them out before they do.”
Well, I didn’t get them out and four years ago the wisdom tooth in my upper right jaw began to cut my cheek. The cuts got so bad that I would have blisters and ulcers from the scratches. Boy, were they painful! I told my current dentist and he said, like the one in North Carolina, that the wisdom teeth needed to be extracted. To help me feel better he prescribed me some special mouthwash. My mouth healed up and the scratching somehow got better so I didn’t think another thing about surgery. When I would go to my regular cleanings, the dental assistant would say, without fail, every time, that I needed to get those wisdom teeth out. Nah, I thought. They don’t hurt. I’m good. So, I didn’t.
A couple of years ago, the cutting and scratching came back. My dentist again said I needed to get those wisdom teeth out but I asked him to just shave part of the tooth off and see how that would go. After the procedure, the scratching went away completely and I didn’t think about wisdom teeth again – until about a month ago. My jaw started hurting and aching and sharp pain electrified the side of my head. My gums on that side of my mouth began to hurt. And, you guessed it, to the dentist I went.
As I laid back in the chair, he and his assistant examined the tooth. Whenever the dentist says “look at that,” you know it’s not good. He patted me on the shoulder. “Those wisdom teeth are going to have to come out now,” he said. And from the look in his eyes I knew I was at the end of the line. “How tough will they be to remove,” I asked. “Well, Scott, you’re 45. 45 is harder than 35 and 35 is harder than 25. They shouldn’t be a problem but you never know.”
And now I am wanting to get them out. My surgery is set for next week and I am ready. That little tooth is hurting something awful. I have decided that I don’t like a toothache and now I wonder if I had gotten them out 15 years earlier, could I have avoided all of this pain? This tooth pain is for the birds! I have watched the clip of Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away removing his impacted tooth with a razor skate and a rock and wondered if I might need to try that today to get some relief.
All of this leads me to think of the sin that we as Christians often don’t deal with quickly enough. We will disobey God and there are no real consequences. We don’t get struck by lightning and the earth doesn’t open up and swallow us whole, so we don’t immediately deal with our sin. Too many times we toy with disobedience. Yes, it hurts to rebel against God, but then we will ignore the conviction and move on in our busy lives. All the while, the Holy Spirit is telling us to confess and repent of the sin before it transforms from a snowball to an avalanche.
Too many times we will let sin linger in our lives, kicking the can down the road and hoping it will resolve itself. But, let me tell you, sin never resolves itself. It always festers and nags and grows until, before you realize it, your life is overwhelmed and you are forced to experience the severe consequences that could have been avoided!
How many marriages have failed, relationships been destroyed, trust eradicated, and lives shattered because people don’t get repent of sin early on? As painful as it can be to deal with sin at all, it is ALWAYS better to resolve it quickly! Proverbs 28:13 reads that “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” The Apostle John wrote that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) What wonderful promises!
I wish now I had gotten those wisdom teeth extracted years ago. Then, I could have avoided all of this trouble. I know there will be pain after surgery, just like there is pain from confessing and repenting of sin. But how much more pain, aggravation, and heartache (or toothache), could we avoid by handling the issues early on instead of waiting on them to explode? When sin is confessed and we are clean before God, what sweet relief we ultimately experience! That relief is even better that what is headed my way after I heal from surgery. Thank you, Jesus!
Scott McCullar is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Carbon Hill. He can be reached at (205) 924-4145 or email@example.com. The church can be found online at www.fbccarbonhill.com or FBC Carbon Hill on Facebook.