It is called the Sacrament of Life.
Many years ago an elder pastor told me the reason the world is in the condition it is, is because God has to settle for second best. God calls on a lot of people and for whatever reason these people are not available to respond.
Last week I began to feel a gentle throbbing in my jaw. After a while I began to identify then pin point the approximate location of this pain. Then it faded away. Then it woke me up. Then after a mild dose of pain killer it—the pain—seemed to relinquish its presence to a sense of normalcy.
The next day it was my task to lead worship and preach the sermon. I had put the bothersome tooth out of my mind. Throughout the morning I was not sure what was bothering me but I was not comfortable. Something had invaded my spirit and was letting me know that it needed to be heard. After the morning worship was over I came to realize it was the throbbing in my jaw. I was suffering from an old fashioned toothache.
After arriving home I called the dental clinic. It was closed. I decided to take more painkillers and wait this out. The dentist office would not open until 9 a.m. the next day. The next day I was there at 7:30 a.m. hoping that somehow I was wrong and they actually opened earlier. I went and sat in my car. I worked on my laptop computer and waited. At 8:45 I went to the door and saw that the clinic was unlocked. The receptionist was just starting the computer and getting her work in order. She asked me how she could help. I tried to act nonchalant and just step aside until she was ready. She said it was OK to talk and could I answer some questions. I did. She then went back to see Dr. J.; she said Dr. J could see me at 9:20 or 1:30. I chose 9:20.
When the dental assistant called me she began by asking some questions and took some x-rays. After a brief consultation she said Dr. J. would be in to see me momentarily. I could hear the sound of drilling going on in the next cubicle. Random thoughts skipped through my mind. Soon that would be me. Soon the source of my pain would know a counter attack and we would be fighting back. Before I knew it Dr. J. had appeared and she began to show me the x-rays. She tested the tooth area in various ways. Then she said, “I don’t see anything that would be causing the pain.” I think the problem may be a sinus infection and not with the tooth.” She continued, “I am going to give you a prescription for penicillin. If that does not work I will ask you to see a different doctor to get a second opinion.” With that she went on to another patient.
I took her advice. Twenty four hours and six penicillin tablets later the pain had diminished considerably. My sinuses also started to dry out.
I pondered what had happened in the last couple of days.
Life itself had been interrupted. Then I went in search of a solution. Part of that solution was to seek the advice and help of a person who accepted her calling and now lives it out. She chose to say yes, she could see me. She chose to seek the advice of the x-rays, she quizzed me further, and then she simply concluded that the results did not make sense. Then she chose to allow her reasoning process and her instincts to lead her to a different conclusion than she would normally go. “I do not know,” is what she said. “I believe we should try this,” is what she concluded.
When all is said and done it is simply called “living.”
An older theologian once called it the Sacrament of Life. It is an experience of grace allowing two people to be in the relationship of a gentle exchange. A doctor with a gift of healing, sharing what she may take for granted, while another receives the freedom of life caused by her practicing her gift.