March 27, 2019 G. Scott Patterson

Do Not Be Anxious (Matthew 6:25-31)

Do Not Be Anxious (Matthew 6:25-31)

My wife’s brother is a dentist. He is a good … no, a GREAT dentist (those are well-deserved awards!). I should know. I have genetically bad teeth. That or I’m suffering the consequences of poor oral hygiene as a child. Reasons aside, I’ve had more holes filled in my mouth than Pole Branch Road! (You probably don’t get the reference, so here’s a video of my brother complaining about SC roads, specifically, Pole Branch

Trust me, there are a LOT of potholes on Pole Branch and a LOT of fillings in my teeth.)

Back to the story at hand … I’ve seen my fair share of dentists in my life and prior to Kenny (that’s Dr. Ken Holton, to you), I never knew there were “good” dentists. They were all the same (and I would not use the word “good” to describe them). But even as a “new” dentist just a few years out of UNC-Chapel Hill, Kenny was very good at what he did. (One of the few good things ever to come out of UNC.)

One of the perks of being family is the “special” treatment we would get. Kenny gave us generously discounted rates, but to accomplish that, he would often treat us after hours. When needed, my wife, Meribeth, would be his dental assistant. She is an RN and although not trained as a dental assistant, she was capable of holding the suctioning thingy and handing stuff to him as needed (I hope I did not lose you by using technical dental jargon like “suctioning thingy.”)

We lived two and a half hours away from Meribeth’s family so most of the time our dental work coincided with family visits and holidays (another reason for him to treat us after hours). On one particular trip, I was scheduled to have a filling replaced. Not fun. I had been dreading the visit. In fact, in retrospect, we may have made a special trip just for him to see me … which would have given me all that travel time to build up some anxiety; a LOT of anxiety … however, I consoled my tumultuous innards with the knowledge that Meribeth would be there next to me.

We arrived. We entered through the back-door; the door reserved for employees, for “authorized personnel only,” and apparently for family. It was a good and comforting feeling, as was the feeling of having the run of the place – no one there except us and the Doc; no one to tell me I did not belong or that I couldn’t look in that room. It was good to be family; privileged even. I had a back-stage, all-access pass to the dentist’s office!

However, when I sat in the dental chair, any “comfort” I had felt quickly dissipated. Kenny was in and out prepping things (the sound of metal instruments on the tray made my heart pound faster and my blood pressure go up several points). My mind began playing tapes of the sound of “The Drill,” that high-pitched whirring with a “z” in the mix. My olfactories recalled the smells associated with “The Drill.” (What? It is impossible to recall smells? Well, maybe I’m just special!) Even before Dr. Holton entered the room, my knuckles were already white from gripping the arm-rests. He and Meribeth were chatting (family stuff probably, I don’t know), but I could hear them in the distance … he was gathering instruments … and needles.

I knew I needed to calm down. I began trying to console myself. But Kenny came in with the syringe … why are those needles four inches long!? As he was drawing up the numbing juice (technical name), I remembered that the last time I had been in his chair, Kenny had given me a Q-tip with some orange flavored numbing gel, to make the needle portion of the visit go a little easier … but he had no orange-flavored Q-tip in his hand, just the syringe. 

I mustered the strength to speak without betraying my high anxiety, “Aren’t you going to give me that orange-flavored Q-tip first?” “Nah,” Kenny said, “it didn’t really make a difference.” The lump in my throat grew like the Grinch’s heart.

My heart starting palpitating. 

“But wait!” I thought to myself, “Meribeth will be in here helping … that will bring me peace and comfort! She will be right my side, holding my hand … right there where and when I need her!” and (and I am NOT exaggerating), at that very moment, Meribeth popped in the room, “Well, I’m going shopping. I’ll be back in about an hour.” And before I could muster even the meekest of protesting whimpers, “Poof!” she had vanished out that back, employee’s only and fleeing-family-members door that I had so confidently entered a few minutes before.

I was gripping the chair so hard, I feared breaking it. Kenny moved toward me with that needle in slow-motion; you know like the monsters in those old, monster B-movies.  

I was trying hard not to let my absolute terror show. And just as he was about to begin, it hit me; I don’t need to be worried or afraid. 

1.      Kenny was my brother-in-law. And a good one at that. He loved his sister and he at least tolerated her husband. He would not intentionally hurt me and more than that, he would more than likely treat me as best as he could given our familial relationship.

(yes, he is still moving toward me with the needle while I am thinking all these things; I am a fast thinker!)

2.      Kenny was a GREAT dentist (just look at all those awards he has on his wall!). In all of my previous visits with him, I had left amazed at how little it hurt, at how gentle and skilled he was. 

Why should I be afraid? I was in the loving, capable, skillful hands of the best dentist I had ever had the pleasure of drooling on! And with that I relaxed, got the Novocain shots and my tooth filled.

If only I had started there I could have saved myself all that anxiety … and you from having to read this protracted story just so I could make this point: Why do we worry? Do we not know that …

1.      … our Heavenly Father LOVES us with an overwhelming, un-explainable, inexhaustible love? And He has given us permission to go through The Door (John 10:9), the special door that says, “Family Members Only.” He has given us a generously discounted rate (Matthew 10:8, niv, 1 Peter 4:8). We are members of His family (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:19)

2.      … our Heavenly Father is a GREAT God? And by “great” I mean … well, every-possible-amazing-word-that-you-can-think-of kind of great, and then some. He is good, just, fair, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, all-wise … He is VERY GOOD at what He does … and we are in His hands.

So why worry? Why be anxious?

We don’t need an orange-flavored, numbing Q-tip to help us. We don’t even need the comfort of a loved-one at our side to bring us peace (though, that IS a wonderful thing). We only need to know and believe that God loves us more than enough to take care of us.