Sunday, April 6, 2014

My spiritual encounter with dental bleach

More than a decade ago, I was in considerably better shape. I was also, of course, more than a decade younger and a little more concerned (okay, vain) about appearance than I am today. As part of my beauty maintenance program, I decided I needed to bleach my teeth. 

At my next dental appointment, I broached the subject with my dentist. He was brutally honest.  "Yeah, you can do it, but it won't make your teeth pearly white," he said. I wanted him to prescribe whatever product would give me a movie-star smile. "Nothing's gonna do that.  Your teeth are a little discolored from antibiotics as a child and they will never be perfectly white," he explained. Needless to say, I was a little indignant and determined to try. Six tubes of 22% White and Brite later, I realized he was right. 

This past Friday was my scheduled cleaning, so I checked with my hygienist, thinking maybe a more effective product had been developed. "Oh, we still use the gel.  It works if you use it," she assured me. I explained that I had used it before, but a little re-do was needed. "Didn't you do a touch-up every couple of months?" she asked. What??? It was bad enough wearing the mouthpiece with the foul-tasting gel every day to get a less than pearly result. I had no idea about touch-ups. It turns out that, if you want sparkling white teeth, you need to bleach them thoroughly to get that pearly white smile, then do a regular re-bleach every month or two for a few days to remove all the new stains.  

How amazing is that? Dental bleaching is a lot like the Christian life, isn't it?  When Jesus forgives our sins and washes us white as snow at salvation, we feel as clean and spotless as can be. It doesn't take long, though, before the sin that so easily entangles us leaves behind another layer of unattractive stain, and we are in need of a re-bleach. The wonderful thing about soul-cleansing is that no uncomfortable mouthpieces or icky gels are needed. All that is required is a repentant heart. 

With a mouthpiece loaded with 22% gel, I'm on my way to a brighter, whiter smile again. The question, though, is what am I doing to get my soul squeaky clean again? What are you doing? I have good news! The stain of sin is much easier to remove than dental stains, and a whole lot quicker. What can wash away our sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus, and He's happy to do it. All you have to do is ask.