I strongly dislike going to the dentist. Yesterday was my semi- annual teeth cleaning appointment. (I was six months late scheduling this appointment, so it actually became my annual appointment.) It’s far too easy to procrastinate doing things I don’t enjoy. Fortunately, thus far my teeth haven’t given me problems and I still have them – wisdom and all. I’m grateful I didn’t have to go to a “tooth cleaning”.
When I’m dreading a task, I try to add some redeeming quality to make it better. I think about the apostle Paul in these situations. His attitude continually convicts and inspires me. While in prison because of his faith, he wrote about continually rejoicing, encouraging others and finding the unseen blessings of his trials such as being able to share about Jesus with those he may not not have had the opportunity to meet were it not for the circumstances.
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.  As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.  Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,  for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.  I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
Wow. Do not those words call you higher? I wonder what “my” letter might have sounded like.
So, trying to learn from my brother Paul, I looked for opportunities to share, to encourage, and to rejoice and be thankful in a situation I didn’t like. (Of course, the dentist and prison are not at all comparable, but I do really, really dread going to the dentist.) Applying these scriptures to my more mundane situation still made the experience so much better. In fact, I almost enjoyed the time. My dentist practices in a town near the ocean. So, before listening to the lovely metal-on-plaque sound I took a few extra minutes to pick up a cup of my favorite fish chowder in Gloucester, and then drove to my favorite prayer spot…to enjoy my chowder and pray. This was the view from my car.
Truthfully, I believe God’s beauty can be found everywhere when we are looking. Yes, this is a magnificent view, but so is the sky…and the trees, the flowers, the animals – everything He has made. I made it through my dentist appointment, and even determined to “enjoy” the few moments to close my eyes and listen to music (with the occasional instrumental accompaniment of the dental tools).
There are numerous other “tasks” I don’t enjoy. I don’t like to iron or put away clothes. However, years ago a sister taught me to pray with thankfulness for the family member for whom I was ironing. This helped. I don’t mind it anymore. Well at least not as much as I did. (Fortunately I don’t have to do it so often now.) I tire of the daily ritual of washing my hair. Yet, during this time I think about what I’ve learned and can share – thus this blog entry. For some reason, the thoughts come best then, so I’ve learned to look forward to it. The decisions I make about my attitude really do make a difference in my feelings toward necessary but unpleasant tasks I encounter.
May we all learn from Paul in the scriptures – and look for ways to rejoice, to encourage, to see God at work and to find new opportunities to share about Jesus as we sit in our “proverbial” dentist chair.