Saturday, February 10, 2007

Flossing as an Act of Hope

As my readers know, our friend and teacher Al Groves had his grand "homegoing" to heaven this week. I wanted to post this blog entry he wrote 11 months ago, just about a month after the doctors told him that his case was terminal. I am moved by the picture of remaining faithful in the little tasks of life as an expression of a living hope in Christ. My own life is filled with so many things I'd rather not do, but part of following Jesus is doing them anyway (and, with God's help, doing them with excellence!) because it's not about me. It's about Jesus. May God give me grace to keep flossing all the way to the end!
Anyway, here is what Al wrote back in March of last year:

03.16.06 Flossing as an Act of Hope

Like many of the rest of you, I have been flossing my teeth for years, more years than I can count, it seems! Notwithstanding flossing every night, I still never managed to make it a habit, because I simply never really enjoyed flossing. Perhaps it's because I try to do it last thing of the day, at a time when I'm usually tired. Who knows? Not surprisingly, any excuse that made flossing a pass for the evening, and I was all over it. Most of the time however, I had no excuse, so I dutifully flossed.

Lately it crossed my mind that flossing my teeth may not matter any more. If I'm dying, what's the point? My teeth are in good shape (one of God's providential blessings in my life is that I have never had a cavity.) Just think: going to bed without any pre-bedtime rigmarole. Bliss. But somehow I just couldn't do it. And it wasn't the guilt of abandoned habit or improper hygiene crying out to my conscience. Rather, I realized that I would be caving in (in a small way) to hopelessness. Flossing your teeth is hardly earth-shaking. But somehow, it felt like giving up. I don't know what God is going to do with this cancer. So many people are praying for me/us. God might choose to extend my life, even bring me healing for years to come. I have not given up hope, and I'm not going to start a slide down the slippery slope.

Guess what? Each night flossing my teeth has become an act of faith and hope! At least one point in every day I am reminded that until I draw my final breath, God is my hope. And he can do as he alone is able.

In truth, I still sometimes feel the bother of flossing on the occasional late night, but each time I come to that moment of flossing, I am reminded that I want to live and that God is a God in whose faithfulness I can trust. He may choose not to heal me, but my choice is to hope in Him. If I die, my hope is in his resurrection. If I live, my hope is in Christ as well.

And this has applied across the board in my day-to-day life. What joy the little things in life have become. I might even learn that taking out the garbage is blessing. Okay. That's a bit much for now.

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