Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Strong Will and Faith

Last week I had my regular dental appointment for a cleaning and x-rays.  But I also had a concern over a particular tooth.  Upon examination the tooth has developed decay and needs some additional work.

Additionally the dentist asked whether I had any trouble with my jaw and tendons.  I explained that I did have trouble in the past, but not for many years now.  I explained that I had been told that the cause was that I was grinding my teeth at night, so I trained myself to stop that.  He expressed surprise and remarked that his patients usually find that to be impossible.

I explained that it takes a strong will.

Afterward I wished that I had expressed that more clearly.  While it does require a strong will from a certain perspective, this answer is not really quite accurate.  There is a much better answer.

For a person who believes, “impossible” is a non-word.

This is true even for people who are not of the one true faith.  Even those whose faith is merely believing in their own ability to accomplish something, this is nonetheless true.  For those who have been regenerated in the one true faith in the one true God, truly nothing is impossible.

This is what I wish I had explained rather than pointing merely to the strength of will that such faith produces.  For it is true that the true faith does give such strength that a person can face and endure all things, as St. Paul writes in Philippians 4:13.  But this is much more than a person’s own strength of will.  This is the strength of knowing God’s grace, mercy, and peace in Christ Jesus.  This is a strength that far exceeds a person’s own strength of will.

I don’t know whether the dentist would have understood if I had explained more clearly.  Perhaps it was for the best that I gave the more simple answer.  Perhaps someday he will think on the matter and ask me where one obtains such strength of will.

It is curious that regarding my very sensitive areas the hygienist was being careful to spray water only to one side and then have me swish after the water warmed.  But it was not doing a good job of cleaning so I told her to go ahead and spray the sensitive areas, too.  She commented to the dentist that I showed no pain and that she did not know whether I was not very sensitive or just tough.  After a brief pause the dentist said, “I’ll go with tough.”

That is what makes me sad about my comment, as it reflects upon me rather than the one in whom I am strong, Christ.

+ + +


Deacon Tom Anthony said...

Very good post. It's very ironic that I wrote something very similar just now. It is a beautiful thing when you something as routine in life as a dental cleaning and find a faith application. More people need to be encouraged to contemplate in a spiritual manner. Doing that strengthens our relationship with God.

God Bless,

Deacon Tom

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Dear Deacon Tom,

Thank you for your comments here and in other posts.

St. Paul's doctrine on this matter is wonderful to hear:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17)

The last phrase literally reads:

The now righteous out of faith shall live.

This is truly The Faith application of The Life. Truly this applies to every aspect and every moment of the life of the baptized believer. Everything, no matter how routine or mundane, even of the things counted as profane such as a healthy bowel movement, is cause for reflecting and rejoicing in God's grace in Christ.

After all, every one of these things is known to Jesus personally as He has been incarnated with flesh and blood and has tabernacled among us for our redemption as we read in John 1. Moreover He now reigns on our behalf in the same flesh and blood, risen and ascended as the firstborn of the many whom He redeemed with His flesh and blood.

It is indeed glorious and beautiful to realize that this applies to us fully both now and forevermore.

~ Paul