Spiritual Flossing || Becca Arrowsmith
Growing up the daughter of a dentist has it’s perks. For starters, my teeth look pretty good, I love my dentist, and free toothbrushes are never out of reach. My mom can also make retainers in our kitchen, but that’s neither here nor there.
For a time, my studies in school were strictly pre-dental – I was going to be a dentist like my mom. It was a long and arduous time, full of organic chemistry and microbiology, but it was also a time to think about the future – who I wanted to be and why. I knew it was a good paying profession, and addresses serious needs, but was it for me? My mom has repeatedly said about dental school, that ‘It opens a lot of doors!’ – I’m not sure exactly what halls she’s been walking in, but I appreciate her optimism.
Realistically, I was personally drawn to the career because I like the idea of preventative care. The bills go up and the teeth come out when you wait until crisis hits – root canal, implants, gum disease… all pretty gross, and all costing a pretty penny. But preventative care is, in it’s nature, preventative. And you know what the number one prevention of tooth decay and cavities is according to my top rated dentist (and many others)? Flossing.
Sure, roll your eyes. Have a silent confession of how infrequently you floss. You’d think being the daughter of a dentist I would have the habit down, and be cavity free. Truth be told, I had 7 cavities before I was 8 years old. My mom is constantly on me to be sure I floss, and I’m still trying to start the habit!
If you’re like me, flossing seems to demand our attention at the most inopportune times. I’m either rushing to get out of the house in the morning and getting some brushing in, or I’m ready to crash into bed after a long day. Flossing seems to take FOREVER in those moments. You flash your pearly whites in the mirror and figure they look pretty good, what’s a day or two between flossings?
Interestingly enough I seem to get the same way about reading and memorizing scripture. I greatly enjoyed Jason’s post, and see some of the problems that are a result of not spending time in the word. When God’s words are not consistently on my mind and heart, I risk root canals, implants, gum disease … not literally, but in all seriousness the spiritual equivalents of these things! Truth be told, being in the word is preventative care for your soul. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at Jesus being tested in the wilderness by the devil. Three times, whilst Jesus is hungry, probably tired, and I would guess frustrated with the only company available, the devil tempts him with different pleasures. Jesus doesn’t just decline nicely saying, ‘no thanks devil, I’m good with what I’ve got.’ He quotes scripture. Let’s take a look at Matthew 4:1-11
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Sometimes when I read this, I imagine Jesus repeating these lines of scripture as mantras in the moment. They well up from deep within him because they are ingrained on his heart, and the more he says them the more he sees them to be true. And he’s got to be on his game! Even the devil knows scripture, and tries to trip Jesus up with it. No dice.
I can only hope when I am in such dire times, I have a memory bank that turns me to truths about God rather than to my own devices, or worse to assumptions I’ve made about God that aren’t true. But to be able to recall God’s truths I have to first be flossing with them.
- Do you turn to scripture only in times of crisis, or also for prevention?
- What would help you make a habit of being in scripture, and who can help keep you accountable?
|Becca Niemeyer (formerly Arrowsmith) grew up in Seattle, WA, under the pretense that she would become a dentist, only to find out God made her to be a pastor. Now she lives in Bellingham, WA working with The INN University Ministries. She invites college students to think about God while also trying to help them integrate faith into their daily lives.|
|Read more posts by Becca Niemeyer|