I skipped the first appointment because my baby was due and the C-section delivery meant no driving for me. Plus, there was the normal craziness of schools, carpools, and activities piled on top of having a newborn.
I skipped the next appointment because our schedule never slowed down. Every time I thought we’d finally made it to the ‘easy’ part of the year, life got all unexpectedly hectic.
At some point as a mom with four kids, you’d think I’d just learn to expect hectic.
So, now here it is….a year-and-a-half since I’ve been to the dentist and time for yet another 6-month check-up that I have not made yet.
Here’s the problem.
It is now easier to miss the appointments than it is to make them. I know instead of just 6 months of cleaning, they’ll be doing extra scraping and polishing.
I hate going to the dentist on a good day.
My mouth never hurts until they clean my teeth. They find a sore spot and then continually poke and prod and ask, “Does this bother you?” Well, it really doesn’t bother me as long as I don’t stab at it with a sharp mental pointy instrument of torture.
I brush my teeth, use mouthwash, and reluctantly floss, but I know I need to go to the dentist….eventually…..when I have the time (which of course I never have).
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Because the problem with delay is that it just makes it easier to keep delaying and harder to do what needs to be done.
Miss one Sunday of church, you can go back the following Sunday without a spiritual revolution.
Miss a month, and you’re out of the habit of going.
Miss a few months and even when you know you should go back, you don’t want anyone to ask you where you’ve been.
So it goes.
Take a day off exercising and you can make it up the next day.
Take two weeks off and why bother exercising today since you’ve missed the last 14 days?
Now it will hurt.
Now you have to start all over.
Now you might have to answer questions.
Now I might have cavities. (Might? Yeah, that’s pretty much a guarantee at this point. Hence, why I don’t want to go.)
Now it will take longer.
Now people might judge.
Now you feel hopeless, flawed, messed up. You are the failure who stopped doing what you knew you were supposed to do and rather than call that dentist or head to the gym or slip into the pew on a Sunday morning, you just want to shrug it off and avoid going back.
Returning requires humility and repentance. It requires bending that willful knee low and confessing that you strayed or stopped or missed or sinned or miscalculated or got it all terribly wrong.
That prodigal son could have run back to his dad at the first sign of disappointment with the free and wild life.
Yet, he stayed. And the longer he stayed, the harder it probably seemed to head back home and face his dad.
Guilt, shame and regret heaped themselves like heavy burdens onto his back.
So, he kept marching in the direction of death because going forward was easier than changing direction.
Jonah, the wayward, runaway prophet, could have changed his mind at any point and taken the easier journey to Nineveh.
Instead, it took a violent storm and a hungry fish to convince him that obeying God was better than stubbornly heading in the opposite direction.
The thought of going back frightens me a little. I know I’ll have to face the consequences of poor decisions and procrastination.
But the longer I wait to call that dentist, the worse that appointment is going to be.
And the longer we wait to obey Him, the more obedience might cost us.
Yet, even when it takes effort and repentance, even when pride has to crumble, even when we need to confess, God beckons us to return.
He gives us new mercies.
He gives us fresh starts.
He re-places our feet on the solid ground.
He journeys with us.
He beckons us home and celebrates the turning and returning it took to get us there.
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you (Isaiah 44:22 ESV)
Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 1:3 ESV).
For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him (2 Chronicles 30:9b ESV).
“Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up (Hosea 6:1 ESV).
Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord! (Lamentation 3:40 ESV).
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King