"But perfect love drives out fear..."
1 John 4:18
I have an irrational, totally unreasonable and unfounded fear of dentists. I have never had a bad experience with one...just don't like them! (I apologize to any dentists who are reading this; it's nothing personal, I assure you).
My whole life, I have had those ridiculous dreams that have me in some public place or party and suddenly all my teeth fall out. The weird thing is...nobody seems to notice. It's kind of like those dreams where you are the only one with no clothes on and no one cares or thinks it's odd. I'm not sure if I'm afraid of dentists because of the dreams, or if I have the dreams because I am afraid of the dentist.
I have been to the dentist three times in my life. The first time I was about six or seven years old and had a loose tooth that I wouldn't pull. So my mother decided to take me to the dentist, who informed her it wasn't ready to pull. Later that night...I pulled the tooth.
My second visit to the dentist occurred about 15 years later. I was on a lunch break from work and eating a piece of chicken. Something broke off the back of my bottom front tooth. I panicked...my dreams had come true and my teeth were falling out! Turns out it was only plaque that had built up over 22 years.
My third and final visit was about ten years later. My bottom right wisdom tooth began to fall apart. So, I took a deep breath and headed to the dentist. He simply pulled it and sent me on my way...still no cavities, mom!
Fast forward another 18 years (if you are good at math, you now know how old I am). My left bottom wisdom tooth began to fall apart this past Memorial Day while we were visiting friends in Arizona. When we returned home I had things to do...kids to finish up school, Mitchell's graduation, anything else I could think of to put off the inevitable...another visit to the dentist.
Last week, I finally went to the dentist. It was very obvious that I was anxious and well, afraid. He was very gentle in looking at my teeth, and yeah, mom...still no cavities. But that wisdom tooth has to come out. He could have simply pulled it....but he knew my fear. So,he decided that it was in my best interest to have me put completely under anesthetic to remove the tooth. So Monday I get to visit...the oral surgeon!
This may seem like a silly story, but it got me to thinking about fear. The thing about fear is, the more you give in to it, the bigger it becomes. It would be much simpler and easier to just have the tooth removed. But my fears have gotten the best of me, and so for my sake, and possibly for the dentists, it has become more complicated, more expensive and more anxiety ridden.
FEAR...how often do we think we are protecting ourselves by letting our fear rule? If we play it "safe" we won't get hurt. We don't follow our dreams because we are afraid of failing. We don't follow our hearts because we are afraid of what people might think. We don't follow our calling because we are afraid we aren't good enough. We don't follow God's leading because.....we are afraid.
What are we afraid of?
Have you ever sensed that you were supposed to go to someone and pray for them, but hesitate because you don't want them to think you are strange? Have you ever been sitting in church and felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to read a scripture or give an encouragement, but hesitate because... what if you're out of place? Do you feel like God has called you to the ministry but fear getting up in front of people? Has God placed in you a desire to sing but your fear of inadequacy holds you back? FEAR....
"What if I don't have what it takes? What if I fail?"
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (MSG) If God has it all planned out, and His only intent is to give us hope, then do we really think He would ask us to do something that would cause us to fail?
"The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1) When the enemy tries to put us in a stronghold of fear, we can tell him we already reside in a stronghold!
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." (Proverbs 29:25) Our fears trap us; but we find safety in Him.
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10) God is always with us..and will enable us to do that which we need to do. Whatever that may be...from the great things to the small.
"You came near when I called you, and you said, "Do not fear." (Lamentations 3:57) He is there when we call out to Him, and calms our fears and reassures us. no matter how trivial our fears may be....even the dentist!
So even though my story is a little silly, I hope it reminds you, as it reminded me that we have a great big God that doesn't think anything that affects our lives is silly. He cares about everything, whether it be my irrational fears of doctors or something that takes a great step of faith.
If you have a desire, a dream, a calling, and your fears are holding you back, remember that God is your stronghold; your shelter, your master planner. He has your best interest in mind and will not call you to do that which you are not equipped to do.
And if you happen to think of me at 9:25am on Monday morning, I'll be facing my fears....in the oral surgeons office!
May the God of peace...strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages).
Amen (so be it).