It's not what you think.
Well, it will be…eventually.
But first, an entertaining little story about my teeth!!
So, earlier this year, I noticed that something was *weird* with one of my back molars. I was having all sorts of trouble keeping it clean, and flossing it – (You know what flossing is, right? That thing that you do a week before getting your teeth cleaned??) – flossing was becoming a futile chore.
That's when I noticed that part of an old filling, and a goodly portion of the tooth, had chipped off.
(Can't imagine why a 50+ year-old filling was so weak…ahem).
Well, at my next teeth cleaning in June, I mentioned it to my hygienist.
She said, "Well, let's clean your teeth, and then I'll have the dentist look at it."
Said dentist then came in, and in utter horror, informed me that the gums surrounding this tooth, and his backyard molar neighbor, were in serious need of repair.
"Lucky for you, we now have a periodontist in the office every other Thursday, and he's here today."
Yes, lucky me.
Well, this guy opened my mouth and uttered another expression of horror, and dropped the hatchet of verdict – (that's what I like to call it).
I needed gum surgery.
"Oh, and by the way, there's decay in that tooth, too."
Well, I had the gum surgery in July.
And healed for the next six weeks.
And put the cavity/filling on the back burner.
After all, the tooth wasn't bothering me.
Remembering that my dentist was retiring at the end of this year, I called and made an appointment to take care of this.
It was about six weeks off.
I figured that would be fine. The tooth still wasn't bothering me, and there were countless other things going on that I thought took precedence over a stupid filling.
You know how this story goes…
The tooth started bothering me.
A little bit – and then A. LOT.
And so I lumbered through the remaining three weeks until my appointment.
I went in last Wednesday, now eagerly (??) looking forward to having this dumb molar taken care of…
If wishes were pennies, I'd be a rich girl.
They took x-rays so my dentist would have an accurate idea of where the decay was, and how he was going to proceed.
That's when I was informed that the tooth had *exploded* in the last six months, and he couldn't fill it, and he was going to try to pull some strings and get me into an endodontist for an emergency root canal.
He showed me the x-ray, and almost the entire tooth was now consumed with decay.
No wonder it was bothering me.
Well, to cut to the chase, the endodontist was kind enough to stay extra hours to fit me in. At 5:30 that evening, after close to two hours in the chair, I walked out into the cold evening and muttered to myself…
"What just happened?"
It's kinda good that it happened this way so I didn't have to fret and worry about it ahead of time. I am not a dental hero, I've never had a root canal, and needles frighten me. So, having less time to ponder was probably a good thing.
But, we're not done yet.
Next week I have to go in to get my first crown.
And, oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I'm still going to the same dental office that I've been going to for years – you know, the one that's 2 ½ hours away from our mountain town – so now each visit requires five hours of traveling time.
Yeah, that office.
All I can say is that I'm humming my own version of that classic cute song, "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth." My version goes like this:
All I want for Christmas
Is one really good crown
A lovely crown
A beautifully functioning crown
Gee, I if I could only have a totally repaired tooth
Then I could wish you Merry Christmas…
Except I won't be able
To buy you a gift
For my bank account is empty now, ow...
Yes, my bank account is empty now.
Yup, my version isn't nearly as cute and endearing.
But as I was driving back up the mountain the other day, the Lord revealed to me three things that were true about my root canal and upcoming crown procedure – and how they parallel Christ's arrival upon the earth.
And yes, there's a Christmas devotional in it all.
1) It was unexpected
When I walked into the dentist's office that afternoon at 2 PM, I was expecting an easy, straightforward *drilling & filling* experience. I was prepared for a short visit, but what I got was an odyssey.
In similar fashion, the arrival of the Messiah didn't happen like expected.
The Jewish people had been looking for a Messiah for hundreds and hundreds of years. He had been talked about, wondered about – anticipated, sought, and longed for.
Of course, they were expecting a vanquishing King, a mighty Deliverer.
Someone who would swoop into their world and rescue them in overpowering fashion…quickly.
Perhaps he would be a rebel, a revolutionary, a righteous warrior.
What they got was a whisper.
2) It was expensive
Any of you who have had gum surgery, or a root canal, or a crown know that all of these procedures are very expensive. And, adding the expense of my tooth travails to the already hefty costs of all the other medical stuff we've had this year, well, let's just say that it's been taxing on the budget.
Yeah, our Christmas gifts to each other might involve just paying bills…
In like manner, the coming of Christ was expensive, a costly venture that would eventually require the greatest payment of all…
People were counting on a quick fix, an *in-and-out-and-Israel-is-restored* kind of Messiah. They would never have guessed that delivering them would cost him his very life.
And certainly not in the way it happened.
On a cross.
Gone was their vision of the hero, the strong and powerful King.
What they got was a beat-up, mangled, bloodied, humiliated, weak, taunted and rejected and abandoned man.
They did not understand that this man was also God.
Yes, the coming of Christ was expensive, for it cost Him so much…
Willingly giving up His place of honor in Heaven, emptying himself of His God-ness, relinquishing His power and majesty, He deigned to become a cell, an embryo, a fetus, a baby.
Helpless and completely reliant on His earthly parents to preserve and nurture His life.
Just so He could one day give it up.
3) It was necessary
Tiny pockets of decay can be fixed with a simple filling.
But decay that has completely invaded and consumed a tooth requires drastic measures. For if the problem is not remedied, the poison could invade the bloodstream and multiply in rampant fashion.
An out-of-control situation that could one day become fatal.
As much as I tried to stall my treatment, as much as I wanted the *simple fix,* in the end my dental problem required extensive and necessary work.
Because it was the only way to bring healing.
Is this not the perfect metaphor for sin?
We might look at sin as a minor pocket of decay. Causing a little aggravation sometimes, occasionally a moment of pain – but easily taken care of with minor correction.
God saw it different.
He saw a pervasive, virulent, poisonous corruption of the very essence of man.
He knew that it was going to require something painful to restore His beloved children to spiritual health, to give them eternal life.
And because of His love, He did what was necessary.
He gave His only begotten Son.
And Jesus willingly gave Himself, and chose to die.
Alas, sometimes the cure requires more brokenness, more agony, more suffering, more misery.
But Jesus did what He did because it's what had to be done to keep sin from killing us.
He literally saved our lives.
So, yes, I've been on a dental odyssey lately.
And when the title for this blog post came to my mind – "A Crown for Christmas" – I was only thinking about the upcoming "awesome" gift of a new crown for my pesky molar.
But then I got thinking about the King, about Jesus –
About how He laid aside His glorious crown in exchange for a crown of thorns.
About how the whole mission of salvation was unexpected, expensive, and necessary.
I got pondering...
He deserves a crown, but He gave it up…
We do not, but He gave us one anyway…
A crown of life.
An awesome gift!
Forever live the King!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS, ONE AND ALL!!
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down...
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
"Don't be afraid...Look, your King is coming…" (John 12:15, NLT)
"Because God's children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death." (Hebrews 2:14, NLT)
"Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. 'Are you the king of the Jews?' the governor asked him. Jesus replied, 'You have said it.'" (Matthew 27:11, NLT)
"The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head."
(John 19:2, NIV)
"…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord..." (Philippians 2:5-11, AMP)
"They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." (Revelation 17:14, NIV)
"And behold, on the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him (the Messiah) was given dominion (supreme authority), glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and speakers of every language should serve and worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed."
(Daniel 7:13-14, AMP)
"'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.'" (Hebrews 1:8, ESV)
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.'" (Revelation 19:11-16, NASB)
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12, NIV)
This Christmas let's celebrate our Lord Jesus' journey – cradle, cross, crown – and thank Him for giving us the gift of eternal life!!
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