Thursday, October 30, 2008

"I Lost My Tooth!"

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13, NIV

Recently I was helping my aunt and uncle with a garage sale before they moved to Tulsa. Their neighbors next-door were having a sale also. It was a clear and bright Saturday in September, so bargain-shoppers were walking down the sidewalk between the two houses with their treasures in hand, like ants scurrying off to their ant-dens with food for the winter. Curious neighbors of all ages stopped by both garage sales and talked more than they shopped.

Grant, a child from across the street, was especially inquisitive about a portable electric typewriter at our sale. His first-grade fingers pretended to type on the unresponsive keys while he chatted with us about his family, school, etc. Suddenly Grant realized that he had not shown us his loose tooth. We were going to be privileged enough to look at his loose tooth whether we wanted to or not. It was so loose that it was lying sideways in front of the other teeth. It was obvious to us that this tooth would most certainly be underneath his pillow at bedtime. Grant was excited about that possibility and wiggled the jiggly tooth even more vigorously with one of his “typing” fingers.

Grant didn’t have enough money of his own to buy the fascinating “old-time” typewriter. “I’m flat broke,” he declared broken-heartedly, all-the-while wishing that my aunt would simply give him the typewriter. When she didn’t offer it to him free-of-charge, Grant went to check with his Mom to see if she would buy the intriguing typewriter. “I’m sure she doesn’t have one,” he declared as he ran back across the street.

The next time we saw Grant he was telling us in a dejected tone “I lost my tooth. I lost my tooth!” He was in tears and we were confused since he’d previously been so excited about putting his tooth under his pillow. “I was coming across the street to show everyone my tooth and I dropped it on the sidewalk before I got here. I can’t find it! I lost my tooth!” Grant declared unhappily from his discouraged heart.

Instead of being overcome with grief over his loss, Grant got right to work looking for his tooth. Soon, he had complete strangers from both garage sales bending down to assist in searching for his tooth. My aunt and I, as well as Grant’s entire family, took turns all morning searching for his tooth in the grassy area surrounding the sidewalk. We used our fingers and an old comb to part the blades of grass in hopes of finding the tooth. The phrase “finding a needle in a haystack” took on a whole new meaning for me that day.

The search continued past lunchtime because Grant could not be consoled until he found his lost tooth. During the tedious seeking, we discovered that in his childlike mind he thought his parents wouldn’t believe he’d pulled his tooth unless he had the tooth in his hand to show them. He didn’t realize that the greater evidence of having pulled his tooth was inside his mouth–a gaping hole in his gum-line. He wanted the evidence to be on the outside, yet the most convincing evidence was on the inside.

There are several spiritual lessons we can learn from Grant’s search for his missing tooth:
~~Our loss may be from the death of a family member instead of a lost tooth. Or, instead of not receiving a typewriter, we may not get the job we desperately want; however, as long as we seek God with all our heart, He promises that we will find Him. It is especially during these times we discover that God is bigger than our need. God Himself is our comfort in grief and our provision in loss. We must focus on Him more than on the pain of loss and the sting of sadness.
~~Just as Grant immediately started seeking in the midst of his discouragement, we need to get busy without delay or hesitation in our search for God and not be overcome by our devastating circumstances. Seeking God with all our hearts is the priority.
~~Even though it may seem impossible to find what we’re looking for when we’re seeking God, He reminds us in Jeremiah 29:14 “‘I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord ....”
~~We don’t need to always be alone in our seeking for God; we can and should enlist others to help us in our searching, using such things as group Bible study, intercessory prayer and public worship.
~~Evidence of searching for God is not always seen on the outside, but God knows what’s on the inside, deep down in our hearts. “‘...The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” I Samuel 16:7, NIV

Let us look for God in the same way Grant looked for his lost tooth–asking others to help us and not giving up in spite of the difficulty of searching. Grant did not find his tooth that day, but he did find that there are plenty of people who love him and are willing to help him when things seem impossible. He also discovered that there are some things worth looking for with all your heart. Grant found the greatest treasures of all. Will we?

© 10-05-04 & 10-30-08 by Janet Faye Broyles of Edmond, Oklahoma
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