I have personally lived my life pursing one goal after another. I doubt I am alone in this mindset. Maybe it is the goal of attaining high grades, getting into dental school, graduating dental school, getting married and having children by a certain age, buying a practice and becoming a practice owner, having certain possessions (car, boat, house etc.), being the dentist everyone likes, attaining a certain bonus and the list goes on. Once we have attained a goal, we are often looking and striving to attain a bigger goal.
These are answers I hear a lot: The Bible says so. I grew up in a Christian home. I had an experience with God.
But we are told our lives will be more difficult. That does not sound good. There will be a reward, but not necessarily in this lifetime. Jesus is not always a “nice guy.” Do we want to believe what is pleasant and easy, do we want to believe what is true? Even though I don’t like my phone bill, I know it is true.
Jesus claimed He is the Son of God in Mark 14:62. Why should we believe Him?
This morning I was reflecting on how much more I can see God’s hand working around me. He is always working in everyone’s lives and is King of the Universe, but my ability to understand and see that hasn’t always been as good as it is now. I’m still not anywhere close to seeing all of what God is doing, and won’t be able to on this side of eternity, but that doesn’t mean my view won’t get better or expand. Just like climbing a mountain and you get increasingly breathtaking views through different parts of the climb. Sometimes it’s just trees and those are beautiful, sometimes it’s rugged and not so pretty and there’s different levels of difficulty throughout, but when you finally get to the summit the glory of seeing all around you with nothing in your way is incredible.
All of us entertain questions about the future. About our lives. About our practices. Where will I be in five years? Where will my practice be? Should I invest in a cone beam at this time? When will I be able to identify the right associate for my practice? These are all excellent questions.
When I was in school, a teacher encouraged us to identify a life verse—a passage of Scripture we could stand on no matter what peaks or valleys we experienced in life. I don’t recall my exact age at that time, but I chose Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (NKJV). This has been my anchor verse and I have had to put it into practice several times over this last year in both my personal and academic life.
Faith and money. Suggesting principles for integrating the two can be both challenging and easily misunderstood. When it comes to one’s personal approach to these matters, devout and studious believers are all over the map as to what the Bible teaches. However, we can all agree, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10, NKJV).
Let's celebrate networking. As a young Christian, I yearned for a community of Christian professionals. The Lord had provided Christian fellowship within the dental school. We encouraged each other with prayers and took turns on mission endeavors. There was easy access to meeting times and meeting rooms. CMDA was active and supportive. Yet, this fellowship was sheltered from non-professional challenges. We all have different comfort zones with grace and tact, but here are a few observations that may benefit those who feel awkward in their transition out of the professional schools and begin their community practices.
Before I started dental school, my commute to New Orleans for graduate school increased by 45 minutes up to 1.5 hours one way. While continuing to make this long commute during dental school every morning, I typically listen to some variation of the following: podcasts by Ravi Zacharias (or members of his team), sermons, books by C.S. Lewis or other Christian authors, an audio Bible, worship music or apologetic debates (I love apologetics). My long commute has always been a great time of fellowship with the Lord. However, last semester a lingering issue began. Listening to those Christ-centered resources left me with a rapidly growing level of discontent. As God revealed, the problem was a neglected desire to read my Bible. Therefore, for this blog post, that is the message: we need to read God’s Word.
Our behavior represents Jesus. Why not be as consistent as possible to live the life that God wants us to live? After all, it is for our benefit.
An area of prayer that I am guilty of forgetting to participate in is crying out for more workers for the harvest. I participate in discussions about injustices in healthcare and the need for more dentists, particularly Christian dentists, but I don’t ask the Lord to raise these people up. God is able to do anything, but He wants to use us, His people, to accomplish His plan so His creation can show His glory. He also tells us to ask for things because He’s a good Father who loves His children.