Nothing More Appropriate Than a Root Canal on Election Day Eve

I went to the dentist this morning and acted like a complete child. Yes, the wailing, screaming, someone-please-silence-her variety of a child.

Last week on my ill-timed trip to Washington DC (thanks to Superstorm Sandy), I took a bite and discovered that my lower right jaw was harboring an offense against me. The world’s most excruciating pain had moved into tooth #30.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cavity, so I assumed I was due. I decided I would just take it all in stride, but then this morning the dentist touches the evil now residing in tooth #30 and I become possessed. “Calm down” I coach myself. “It’s just a cavity.” “Get a grip. It’s not the end of the world and you know the rules–Freaking out is not allowed!” It doesn’t matter what I say. All the dentist has to do is make even the smallest of motions toward said tooth, and I convulse in a fit. I hear the girls in the back room giggle. I’m probably already on YouTube. Tooth #30 is calling the shots. He’s making a fool out of both of us and Dr. I’m-So-Glad-You-Are-Not-Related-To-Me Dentist says, “Oh this is bad. You cracked your tooth. Your nerve is infected. You need to see a specialist. Next!” “Wait! Do I get valium for that?” I ask hopefully. “No. You get to suck it up until you see the specialist.”

I barely do dentists, let alone specialists. I’ve emotionally come undone. I hear them tell me I’ll have to see the “You’re Teeth are Seriously Screwed” Dentist around the corner at 2:30. Tooth hurty? Is that a joke? Are they preying on my girl’s-come-undone-moment?

I cry as I stumble to my car. My afternoon is packed with appointments and I will have to cancel them all. I won’t be able to eat lunch. The election is tomorrow. “Lord,” I bawl, “it’s too much!”

It’s true that Election 2012 has felt very much like this tooth. I don’t recall an election ever causing me so many fits or so much pain. Anything or anyone gets even close to the topics of debates, propositions, or candidates and I find myself being lost to an undignified me. The spin unnerves me. Something rank and painful is lurking underneath the rhetoric. I can’t get past the heartbreak. Our country is sick and broken. If we forget that, then we become about this party or that party. Forgetting that our Source of truth and help lies outside any party, proposition, or system that man can dream up.

Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us; we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope like the blind along a wall, groping like those who have no eyes; we stumble noon as in the twilight, among the vigorous as though we were dead. We all growl like bears; like doves we moan mournfully. We wait for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions before you are many, and our sins testify against us. Our transgressions indeed are with us, and know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning away from following our God, talking oppression and revolt, conceiving lying words and uttering them from the heart. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and whoever turns form evil is despoiled (Isaiah 59.9-15a).

Yes, we are very sick.

The Lord saw it… (Isaiah 59.15b).

Are there any other better words in Scripture? God sees. He knows our pain. He knows our sins. He has not turned His eyes away. He knows we are blind sheep, desperately in need of a Shepherd–not merely a donkey or an elephant. Only He can bind up the brokenness that has brought America to her knees. He is the Specialist.

Have we looked to Him?

As we quickly approach Election Day, I encourage you to seek the Specialist before you freak out, flake out or follow thoughtlessly. Consider well what is at hand. Think carefully about how your vote will impact the least of these, the oppressed, and the powerless. Be a disciple first, before you are a democrat or a republican. God has never been impressed with the wisdom of man–tomorrow will be no different.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual…but we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2.12-13, 16a).

I was told today that I could not ignore the remedy for this cracked tooth; it will be a painful process to remedy it, but it is essential. As I think about our country, I believe the same holds true. We need a real remedy on Election Day. His name is Jesus and he needs his people to remember tomorrow that they are his and to look to him as the one and only Redeemer.

Vote as Jesus leads you. Love well those who vote differently. And please, please, please don’t forget–‘American’ describes your residency, ‘Christian’ describes your identity. You are a Christian–one who embodies Christ–in America.

There is a movement afoot to help Christians remember their true identity is not captured by any political party. Communion Day Election will gather believers around the unity of the  Table. I sense deeply that tomorrow there will be much to divide us, if we let it but it doesn’t need to do so. You can find out more about Communion Day Election here. I’m so happy to be a part of a church family that will treasure the unity of Christ in this way (although I don’t think that our communion focus is associated with the national movement). Yes, I will vote. But {if my tooth allows it}, I will treasure with deep gratitude the bread and the wine that speaks to whose I really am. I hope you will remember this too.

Freaking out is not allowed. Keep repeating it and looking to Jesus.

And please pray for me and my tooth at 2:30. You should probably pray for the “specialist” too–I hope he has some psych credits under his belt.

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