More lessons from the dentist’s chair…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 9:09 pm by Libbie

I said that I might write some reflections on yesterdayís successful dentist visit, and here they are. Once again I see the Lord using the dentistís chair as a schoolroom for me. I wonder if the dentist knows that heís using her facilities, or how she would feel about that if she didÖ

In the days leading up to yesterdayís dentist appointment to deal with my eternally cracked tooth, I reminded myself that at the last go-round of numbing and drilling the Lord shepherded me into the place of sitting quietly at his feet, trusting his good plan, and resting in his care for me, which is the only place of real peace. So thatís where I wanted my mind and heart to be for this appointment (partly, I have to admit, so as to avoid having to go through the same ordeal again to learn the same lesson again).

Well, instead, Iíve been anything but quietly trusting and resting in the Lord. I find that I have been very distracted lately with lots of things going on that require planning, executing, making decisions, staying on top of the details, etc. and I feel as if Iíve been dropping a lot of balls. The demands are not necessarily anything out of the ordinary (apart from Alís medical issues), because our life is very seldom routine or predictable, but somehow things seem a notch up from ďthe ordinary.Ē And Sunday I was particularly uptight. Eowyn asked me late Sunday if I was okay, because I seemed ďon edgeĒ (and she helped me figure out that I was worrying about some things in the future, and that that anxiety was showing up in fretting about various surface challenges), and Al asked me Monday morning if I was okay because I seemed frazzled in a way he hadnít seen me be at any point since we learned about his cancer. So as I anticipated Mondayís appointment and wanted to be serenely and contentedly resting in God, I found instead that I was rather out of sorts.

I figured that if the Lord found it necessary back in April to extend the process of getting my jaw numb because He wanted to catch my attention and remind me to rest in his care, then I was really in for it this time. Iíd be in that dentist chair for weeks this time around, since I obviously had not learned to keep my heart peacefully trusting him.

Yet, the Novocain worked on the very first shot. Not only that, the dentist was able to do a root canal that should solve the cracked tooth problem altogether. Go figure.

So I did go figure. And I remembered something Iíve known for years and years: itís not about me getting my heart right so that God can work. It doesnít all depend on me. I cannot determine a single outcome of anything God may do by my heart attitude or by anything else I do. (Of course this is actually the same lesson as last time. Last time I thought that if lots of people were praying, surely God would answer their prayers and let my tooth be taken care of. Which he didnít. And this time I thought that if I was frazzled and out of sorts God would slow down the dental treatment process again to catch my attention and direct my heart back to resting in him. But he didnít; he let my tooth be taken care of smoothly and comfortably.) And so I am reminded that he is the Lord. He is sovereign and will do what he knows is best for his children. And while he does call us to give him our whole hearts in glad surrender at every moment, his love and care for us donít depend on how well or poorly we do that.

And that is exactly what I needed to be reminded of right now. As I worry about the future and about how I will handle some very important things that I often do poorly and that Al does well, when he will no longer be here to step in and help me, I need to remember that the Lord will be here, and he is not bound by my failures. Where I fail, Jesus didnít, and that is what Godís love for me–and more importantly for our children–is based on. He is gracious and kind beyond all reasoning and infinitely able to do all things. He can guide the dentistís needle and fix my recalcitrant tooth, regardless of my lack of faith, and he can and will take care of us all in the future, even in the areas where I am weak.

So, having my tooth finally fixed, aside from being a relief in and of itself, was also a tender reminder from my heavenly Father of his steadfast, faithful care for me. And Iím very thankful for that.

In his love,



  1. Jan Powers said,

    June 21, 2006 at 7:30 am


    Your reflections reminded me of that song we sang on Sunday, “Haven’t You Been Good”. His goodness is often unfathomable. Even when things don’t look good, He IS being good to us. What a wonderful thing to catch a glimpse of just how good He is as we look back on the circumstances of our lives. His ways are so above ours that it is perplexing to try to figure out what He will do as we look ahead but what a comfort to know that all His dealings with us flow out of the greatest act of sacrificial love on our behalf and on His commitment to complete what He began. How sweet your reflections on walking with Jesus, keep them coming.

  2. Judy Parnell said,

    June 21, 2006 at 12:09 pm

    Thank you Libbie. I stopped working to eat a quick lunch and I thought I would just check on the Groves’ blog to see if anything was new (which I usually do several times a day). As always, it just warmed my heart. Thank you for sharing so opening and honestly with us. Your words certainly ministered to me as well.
    We enjoyed Sam & Sue’s visit so much over the weekend and we felt that through their hugs, we received hugs from our dear friends at Westminster.
    Love to you both,

  3. Allie Stryd said,

    June 21, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    I love ya.

  4. Cheryl White said,

    June 21, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    God is also providing a schoolroom and teachers, through both of you, for all of us. I’m so sorry that I forgot to ask you earlier today about your tooth -I went through a root canal recently – so I know what a relief you now feel. I’ll pray for continued relief for you in everything – hopefully the soccer game didn’t stress you out!! I still don’t know the final score so will go and check now. Maybe see you at the next game, wearing orange! Thankyou Libby again for sharing your heart, and showing us Jesus.

  5. Larry Knowles said,

    June 23, 2006 at 9:06 am

    Dear Al and Libby:

    A voice from the past here…

    You may remember Joanne and I from our days at WTS in the early 80’s and at Christ Reformed PC in Oreland. Al kindly helped me a few years back by e-mail with some private research I was doing.

    It wasn’t until we recieved Dr. Lillback’s recent letter that we became aware of your circumstances. Since then I’ve been looking at the history of recent events on your blog. As many others will surely attest, two strong impressions struck me: the intensity of your afflictions and the marvel of God’s grace to and through you notwithstanding.

    Though distanced geographically and by time, please be assured that our hearts are with you, as are our cries to God on your behalf.

    I was taken with the family photo. By the time we left WTS Alistair was still very young…a blond haired, solid little fire hydrant of a boy. Look at him now!

    Grace and peace in abundance to you, friends, brother and sister…

    Larry Knowles

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