I shifted in my seat and folded my hands to keep my fingers from fidgeting. The tension of waiting gnawed on my nerves.
Suddenly I felt the presence of someone slide into the seat to my right. A soft introduction cued me to begin speaking.
“Well, it’s been seven years—” I tried to sense a reaction before plowing ahead, “—I know I’m way over-due, but, um, I’m here today because . . .”
I spilled my story. I owned my actions and braced for the consequences. I submitted to the prodding—this is what I came for—as I waited for the pronouncement.
After some quiet contemplation, I received the verdict: “No cavities. Your teeth are in really good shape for it being so long since you’ve seen a dentist—hardly any buildup. Now let’s look at that chipped tooth.”
My shoulders slumped in relief. The fix for the tooth and subsequent cleaning flew by. I barely noticed the poking and scraping. I was practically giddy knowing my years of dental inattention didn’t cause any long-term effects.
As I got out of the chair I realized the weight of guilt I’d been carrying as I pretended I had everything under control. I waited seven years. I waited until I was broken.
And I do the same thing with God.
I try to do better on my own. I wait until I’m damaged beyond what I can repair. I squirm in His presence because I know exactly how long it’s been and what I’ve done.
Yet when I confess, He scrubs me clean and smooths the rough edges. He points out the tender places and weak spots we need to keep an eye on together. I have ongoing responsibilities. But He never gives me what I deserve.
Textbook mercy. And I know it.