I just returned from the dentist’s. For many of us, it is one of the least anticipated appointments. In my teens I had a few cavities, two wisdom teeth cut out, and my two front teeth knocked out. My trips to the dentist in adulthood have been much less intense. I am still not a fan.
My visit was for a scheduled cleaning. Since my last appointment I had been more disciplined than ever. I had brushed well at least twice a day, flossed daily, and had mostly avoided eating starches and sweets. I imagined I would hear the dental hygienist say, “Just go back home, your teeth are excellent!”
That didn’t happen. It did turn out to be one of the easiest cleanings of my life. But when finished, the hygienist said, “It doesn’t matter how well you take care of your teeth, we will always find something. There is always something.”
Our personal pursuit of God is a lot like going to the dentist. If we have neglected the spiritual disciplines, we dread a spiritual check-up, avoid personal prayer, skip attending worship services, and have no desire for a spiritual accountability partner. The more vigilant we are with our personal spiritual hygiene, the more we desire a spiritual exam.
As we expose ourselves to the hygienist of the soul, the Holy Spirit will always find something. There is always something.
Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ have been declared forgiven. We are in the “No Spiritual Cavities” club. But that doesn’t mean we are above needing regular spiritual cleanings. The work of holiness is still being done. We call this “sanctification.”
[We] are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
So let’s maintain our disciplines and make our appointments with God’s Spirit. Expose our souls to our hygienist and say, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).
The exam may expose some issues we thought were fine: bitterness, anger, lust, selfishness, greed, gluttony, doubt, impatience. When these are scraped away, we want to ensure we can walk out of our spiritual exam with a recreated soul.
So, before we leave, let the spiritual hygienist polish up the nooks and crannies of our soul.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
When is your next appointment?