not sleeping well. Of course there are several causes for these symptoms, but when my orthodontist asked about them without me telling him, I was a bit floored. Apparently my teeth were goofy enough to cause grinding in my sleep, my bite was just out of alignment enough to mess with proper breathing, and the crowding was beginning to cause gum recession which would eventually become problematic. Huh. Good to know. I have always disliked my teeth, but knowing there were functional issues going on, I elected for treatment.
Oh. My. Goodness. About the third day I was wishing I hadn’t of. When my mouth was still sore two weeks later and tender to eat, I thought, “It wasn’t really THAT BAD having headaches, a sore jaw and waking up.” But as time went on, the symptoms subsided, my teeth began to “shape up” and now I will soon have them off. I have stopped grinding, the jaw pain is gone, and I sleep fairly well these days. Soon, I will get to see a smile I have never seen before, and it excites me. The torture was worth it ;)
What’s the parallel? Many times I have elected to do something and when things got tough, I had the freedom to bow out. Not this time. Once the braces were on, they were on. No going back. I was stuck with them. While it seems odd to say it, a relationship with Christ is similar.
Once asking Jesus to be the Lord of my life (which really was only a little over seven years ago, even though I’ve believed since I was seven), we’re kind of stuck with Him. That sounds negative, but it’s not. I have found, He takes our request for Him to lead and guide us VERY SERIOUSLY. And sometimes it can be painful. Gasp! Painful? Why? God is supposed to be loving, caring and compassionate. How could it EVER be painful?
Just like the wires readjusting, properly spacing, align correcting – God has to do the same with us. He wants for us to be aligned to His image, and that means those areas in our lives that are “turned wrong” or “wonky” need to be dealt with. This can be painful. When we get into His Word and receive nudges from His Spirit about something needing to change, we can say to ourselves – when I was leading my life, it wasn’t really ALL that bad. Except, it was. There was pain and discomfort there - or perhaps it always felt like something was missing. There may have been brokenness there. After asking Jesus to lead, there may still be brokenness, but it is with good reason!
The more He reveals and changes and tweaks us (the breaking part if you will), the more genuine peace we live in. The more authentic joy we experience. Thankfully, like having braces, He doesn’t do everything all at once. There are several weeks between tightening wires, or adding bands, or placing a thicker gauge wire to move teeth. A progression. God is the same. Once He deals with one area, He lets us live there for a while, and then there will be another challenge come along to help minimize the flesh’s stronghold even more. As long as we are willing, we will learn and grow more, in Him. We become more like Him as the days go by, and we begin to reap the benefits nearly right away.
But if we do not cooperate, we can experience turmoil. I had a choice to cooperate during my braces treatment. I had to make sure I kept my teeth cleaned, properly flossed, wear my bands, and so on. If I didn’t, I would have prolonged treatment, or even risked having them removed before treatment was up. It is similar with Christ. We are invited to cooperate with Him during our sanctification, although sometimes we don't always do so (or at least I haven't anyway).
When I stopped cooperating with Him, I prolonged arriving at the place He would like to take me. When I went back to doing the leading, it was different. I now sensed His Word and Spirit in my heart and thoughts, constantly speaking to me about what He has for me instead. I imagine this is true for many who chose to begin doing things in their own strength again. Why? Why is He like those braces we just can't back out of? Because He loves us too much to let us settle for less than what He wants to give us. He wants us to live as a reflection of His image. He wants us to be aligned to His Word. He wants us to live with the fruits of His Spirit in our lives. He wants us to live a life of Love, rather than fear, or brokenness, or loneliness, or emptiness. Not for our sake, but for His glory and the sake of others!
So if you’ve found yourself in your walk with Christ and you feel like things became a little too uncomfortable, He touched raw tender places, or you just did not want to go where you thought He may be leading you, and you realize you may have resumed possession of the wheel in your life, be encouraged to pray and ask Him to have it back. It may feel like torture at times, but in the end when you begin to live with a peace that passes understanding and an unexplainable joy, BEFORE you reach the glory place in heaven, I believe we're all going to see it is ALL WORTH IT!
Many blessings and please let me know if you would like prayer or need encouragement.
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