The masked faces of the dental surgeon and his assistant seemed to float above me. She braced my chin; he pushed and pulled.
“That one’s being a little stubborn, huh?” she asked.
“Well, they’re not really designed to come out,” he responded. “Hand me 105 please.” He was trying to be discreet, but it wasn’t hard to guess what “105” was code for. The whine of a tiny saw buzzed inside my mouth, cutting the stubborn tooth in pieces. I closed my eyes, breathing deeply of the laughing gas that made it all seem like a dream, floating far, far away.
Maybe I wasn’t at the oral surgeon’s office having all four of my wisdom teeth removed, after all. Maybe I was in the red leather rocking chair at home, dozing off while I nursed my baby. Wasn’t that the whine of my dad’s saw down in the basement, painstakingly cutting pieces of flooring to fit in the grid of the space he was helping us renovate?
And wasn’t that his voice, using that word “design”?
How would you like to design the cabinet space?
What design should the ceiling tiles be?
How would you like to design these shelves? I’ve been answering room design questions all summer, so you can hardly blame the word for having a decided ring of familiarity. It started with how big the room should be, where the walls should go. It moved on to how many ceiling fixtures there should be, where the light switches should go, how many outlets I wanted. Then it was questions about door styles, and trim styles, and cabinet styles. And stain colors, and wood types, and hardware styles.
And finish choices. Satin, semi-gloss or glossy?
And paint colors. You want white? Which white?
And flooring choices. How durable? How water-proof? How smooth? What color?
And ceiling tiles. Me: Seriously? There are choices of ceiling tiles!?
And so many measurements. How deep should this shelf be? How high should the counter top be?
Wait—about those measurements. I still had to decide about that.
Perhaps I furrowed my brow as this realization floated through my foggy, wandering mind. “You’re doing just fine,” the surgical assistant reassured me cheerfully. I acknowledged her kind effort to encourage me with an unintelligible grunt around the apparatus bracing my mouth open in a perpetual yawn. The unpleasantness of reality seeped in. That’s right. I was at the dental office, in a black leather chair, not a red one; not napping in the late afternoon sunshine while snuggling a baby, but beneath the artificial lights of surgeon’s office. That wasn’t my dad’s saw whining, and it certainly wasn’t cutting anything as pretty as espresso colored flooring in pieces.
My mind sorted through all this, and finally circled back to one positive thought relevant to my current state: the surgeon’s passing comment about design. I knew from our pre-surgery consult that the root of the stubborn tooth he was currently whittling out was dangerously close to a nerve, and I had received all the disclaimers about worse-case scenarios. Teeth aren’t designed to come out; nerves aren’t designed to be exposed. All these bad things could happen. Et cetera.
But, in that moment, his chance comment brought peace to my heart. My teeth were designed—and I knew the Designer. “O Lord, designer of this body, protect that nerve that You created and designed, guide the hands of this surgeon and the blades of his saw.” Right then, silently praying, I was grateful that I had opted out of general anesthesia in favor of the Novocaine and laughing gas that still left me vaguely conscious of the proceedings. I had been granted the privilege of acknowledging the Creator whose hands had formed my body in a most unexpected moment.Two weeks later, I sat at a picnic table beneath a canopy of gilded autumn leaves, and took a cautious bite of the bread tucked in next to my bowl of wild rice soup. Smiling ladies and a few husbands milled through the woods nearby, cocking their heads to admire the dozens of stunning quilts suspended among the graceful white birch trunks, commenting to each other over steaming cups of apple cider. I chewed slowly, careful of the still tender incisions in the back of my mouth, then swallowed. And marveled. After two weeks of smoothies and soup, I was chewing again!
I cannot fully express how satisfying it was to finally be back to productively moving my jaws and swallowing without pain. While the teeth had not been ultimately designed to come out, God had designed my body to heal. Can you imagine designing something so stunningly complicated as the human body? Ha! Considering the fact that I was feeling mentally taxed after designing one small, simple room in my basement, I guess not! Certainly that particular design experience had given me a much deeper appreciation for the work of designers, God the Creator most of all.
Thank you, Lord, for your perfect design, I whispered in my heart.
Just then, a lady in a straw hat flashing a ready dimpled smile approached our lunch table. She handed us tiny slips of yellow paper and pens, and warmly invited, gesturing towards the display of quilts: “Would you like to vote for the best design?”
There was that word “design” again!
Off we went to wander critically through a maze of color, creativity and splendid design. Would it be the whimsical bicycle with the Dresden plate wheels and meticulously fussy-cut floral basket? The mesmerizing log cabin in which squares made of stripes became stripes made of squares? And did you see that dizzying-ly magnificent portrait of a snowy owl crafted of thousands of tiny squares?
I voted for the bicycle on paper. But in my heart? The human body—and the One who designed it—won “Best Design”, hands down.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.“ (Psalm 139:14)
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth…he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17: 24)