Hi from Kathy Collard Miller in the hot desert of Southern California near Palm Springs. But don’t worry, it’s a dry heat.
I have a love-hate relationship with flossing. Or is it a hate-love relationship? I don’t know. Sometimes I hate it more than I love it and other times I love it more than I hate it. I hate it when I’m about to do it and I love it when I’m done. And that happens twice a day. I’m motivated because my teeth are so ripe for cavities that I want to avoid the pain.
Plus, I have spaces between my teeth that are capable of storing a three course meal. Too bad that I can’t use that nourishment for an afternoon snack. But the feeling of food caught in those spaces so bothers me that I’m willing to embarrass myself in public trying to use my fingernail to plumb the depths of that space. As a result, I don’t go anywhere without floss. When I change purses, the first thing I make sure is that I have transferred the floss. I don’t leave home without it. I think I single-handedly keep the floss industry in business. I’m an expert at knowing the right kind of floss. But I still hate to floss!
But of course, I love the relief when that floss cleans out the Grand-Canyon-spaced gap in my mouth. And when I also brush my teeth, I feel completely cleansed. I don’t think there’s much in life that gives such an immediate sense of cleanliness and relief.
And that’s how I felt spiritually October 1st, 1967, when I asked Jesus to come into my life, save me, and cleanse me from my sins. I felt clean and relieved. I can’t tell you which was more important to me. Since childhood I’d believed that I needed to perform perfectly to earn God’s love and a way into heaven. In my mind, I envisioned a scale that kept track of my good deeds and my bad deeds. I hoped that the side with the good deeds would be heavier than the other side by the time I died. But since nothing ever measured up to deserve being on the scale’s good side, the “bad deeds” side was always lower.
But at the age of 18, when I attended my boyfriend’s church, for the first time I heard clearly the Gospel–the good news that I didn’t have to perform. I only needed to see myself as a sinner whose only hope was Jesus taking my sins to the cross. I realized I could be set free from the slavery of that scale by receiving God’s saving grace. What great news. I responded in prayer to that invitation that morning and knew I’d been cleansed of my sins. What a relief! It was like flossing 1,000 times deeper, all the way to my soul.
I have to admit, just as I resist flossing, I sometimes resist confessing my current sins as a Christian. Flossing isn’t a one time act. Every time I eat, something gets caught in those spaces. In the same way, asking for forgiveness isn’t a one time act.
Because I still sin periodically and it’s like food in that gap, it bothers me. And if I’m willing to humble myself, I can be cleansed. That’s the assurance of I John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins.” It’s something as a Christian that I need to do over and over again whenever I sin.
And what a relief. It feels like the description in Malachi 4:2: “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” I feel the freedom and relief of that calf both after I floss and after I am cleansed from sin. But being cleansed from my sin brings greater freedom and leaping.
I’m so grateful that I can buy floss and I’m so grateful that God offers free of charge the daily forgiveness for my sins. It feels good and is better for me and gives more glory to God to be cleansed. Maybe even when I’m trying to use my fingernail to clean out the Grand Canyon in my mouth.