While growing up my mother always made me brush my teeth and visit the dentist regularly. She even washed my mouth out with soap quite often, but that’s a whole different story. I hate going to the dentist. In fact, I could honestly say I’d rather undergo surgery than to have some man’s hands and a loud shrieking drill inside my ever-so-sensitive mouth. Unfortunately, even something as innocent as candy can be toxic to a beautiful smile. And sometimes we can tell right away how hard someone’s life has been just by his or her smile.
A few days ago I went to visit inmates in a county jail. I love sharing a message of hope and forgiveness with people who feel desperate, rejected and abandoned. Because I’ve survived a multitude of sins and traumatic situations myself, I want them to know how much God can change their lives if they surrender to Him, just like He did for me.
The first woman I met that day seemed desperate for anything that could give her hope. Through deeply sunken pale cheeks and horrible black rotten teeth that were unlike anything I had seen before, she told me about her struggles being addicted to meth, which ultimately led to her arrest. She longed for a different life than the one she had been living and it was evident her body had suffered from the years of drug abuse. She told me she felt lucky to be in prison, since it had forced her sobriety.
I shared with the woman that I had also been addicted to drugs for a decade of my life. I understood the torturous cycle of addiction she was describing, as well as all the other stupid decisions that go along with ingesting mind-altering substances. But then I explained how God miraculously transformed my life once I surrendered my life to Him and her interest was piqued.
As I looked into the eyes of the frail sick woman, I explained that the same power that raised Christ from the dead could also transform her life. It’s just impossible to be good enough all by ourselves. But fortunately, it’s not about how good we are…it’s about how good He is! I told her if she believed that Jesus came to earth and died for her sins, then defeated death and rose again, then she could be assured of her eternal future and have the power to live differently.
At that point in our conversation the woman started crying. I continued to tell her how much God loves her and was pursuing a relationship with her. I said He has a very specific plan for her life; one that will bring Him glory and give her life purpose and meaning. Then suddenly, the woman emphatically cried that she needed Christ in her life, and she wanted to be transformed by the power I described.
We prayed together, then the woman looked up and smiled real big at me. I imagine it was the first time she had smiled like that in many years. And in that moment, I no longer noticed her deteriorating meth-stained teeth. She was celebrating her newfound hope, joy, peace and freedom…and her smile was absolutely beautiful!
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
John 6:40 – “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”