Yesterday, while reclining in a turquoise chair and staring at the holes in the bland ceiling of Willamette Dental, I realized something very freeing: God is like my orthodontist. Yes, God is like Dr. Chong, in all her sweetness and secrets.
I’ve had my braces for 2 years and 4 months and for the entire 2 years and 4 months, there has rarely been a time when Dr. Chong told me what was going on with my teeth. At each appointment she gives me a brief overview of what is going to happen in the next 30 minutes, but other than that, she doesn’t share many of her plans.
Sometimes, if I’m lucky, she gives me general plans: “Your overbite is almost fixed.” Something I have heard for the past 4 months, at least. And sometimes something hardly more descriptive: “This tooth on the bottom needs to turn a little bit more.” How much? I wonder. Will this push back my release date? I restlessly think about my day of freedom. Then she pokes and prods and pulls at my lips and says things like, “Bite down,” or “Open as wide as you can,” or even something irrelevant to my teeth: “How were your holidays?” She comes to conclusions and scribbles notes that everyone thinks are irrelevant to my patient knowledge, then, she gives me directions: “Wear these rubberbands,” “We’re putting a chain on your bottom teeth,” “We’ll need to tie these brackets with metal wires.” I am left with a glob of overbearing questions.
How much more does my overbite need to be fixed?
Are my teeth aligned correctly?
Will I have my braces off before I turn 21?
I won’t get answers to any of these questions, but I also don’t need to know the answers. In 2 years and 4 months I have seen a dramatic change in my teeth. I have no idea how I got from there to here except for the metal glued in my mouth, but Dr. Chong knows. She is the doctor. It’s her job to know. She has intricate plans to make my teeth straight and I trust those plans. She doesn’t always make it clear how I will get there, but she is getting me there, and I know she is good and sweet and wants the best for my teeth. I trust her completely in things that I have no authority over and things that only doctors can understand.
God is no different. In many ways he is just like Dr. Chong. I came to him with a crooked, messed up life and said, “Here. I don’t know how to fix it, but I know you do. I trust that you can make it straight and I trust that you will.” He is the Doctor of my heart and life. I don’t know his plans for me. I don’t understand what he’s doing with me and in me. I don’t pretend to know when my life will be fixed or what it will look like when I get there. None of these things is clear to me, but God knows, and he is, after all, the most trustworthy Doctor. Still, I bombard him with questions:
Where are you taking me?
When will I get there?
What is my purpose?
These questions, too, will remain unanswered, but I know he knows the answers, and I’m learning that that is enough. I don’t need to know these things. He is working on my heart, slowly aligning it with his character, and as I listen to his directions, for a short time, I am given a piece of the plan. I see where he is going with me. That glimpse of the straight path is enough to keep me satisfied with unanswered questions and in trusting him with the task of straightening my heart.
In the past 3 years and 9 months, God has proven himself worthy of my trust, and in those 3 years and 9 months, I have seen him straightening my heart. I don’t know always understand how he has brought me from there to here, but he is a good Doctor, and I trust him to finish this work in me.