"If it's not in your face, it's in your case." She was sitting behind the counter and looking up at me with a condescending smile as she handed me the oddly-shaped orange container.
I accepted it briskly and heard my retainer rattle inside as I placed it in my purse.
She resumed her speech, "Remember that rhyme. It's so easy to loose your retainer is you don't put it away." Somehow in her eyes I read a shadow of doubt concerning my faithfulness to take on the duty of properly caring for my retainer; I suppose too many years of disappointing patients who had failed in the task had caused her to become generally pessimistic.
Still, I smiled and nodded at the too-friendly receptionist and mumbled something in the affirmative.
That took place about two years ago: the glorious, exciting, anticipated day my braces were removed and I could finally bite into and apple and eat sticky caramel without any pangs of conscience there to bar the way.
Immediately after braces, though, that above-mentioned retainer was placed in my possession. It's an odd thing, made of plastic and wire, with the ability to realign my teeth into the straightness they simply will not of themselves acquire. However, I must confess there were many, many times I forgot that little rhyme that receptionist so long ago hummed, which has for some reason has become my retainer's theme song. There were many times I have wrapped my retainer in a napkin, it was thrown away, and we dug through bags of trash to find it. Many times I left it on a fast food tray and it was thrown into their trash, and my older brother dug through their disgusting garbage to find it. Many times I left it somewhere I oughtn't, to later find it had been swept onto the ground and kicked into some dusty corner where it might have been destroyed or never found.
By and by, my original retainer is still with me, currently locked away in it's case which is stuffed in a drawer.
This is where the story turns, or rather, ends. You see, this post isn't about my retainer; it's about my life. That's right, this is going to transform into an analogy.
It begins this way: every night I am supposed to wear my retainer, and it realigns my teeth. It's a sad thing, this business of teeth. At least, in my case it is. My teeth are far too active: they like to migrate. To stubbornly return to their old, crooked, places and defy the thousands of dollars which were spent to make them straight. Therefore, when I put my retainer on most nights, I feel this tight feeling: I know my retainer isn't fitting properly because my teeth have, in the few short hours in a day, already begun to wander from their correct positions.
Just so, everyday my thoughts begin to wander. My heart begins to return to it's old, debased ways. A harsh word, a cold thought, a selfish action. My sinful nature begins to worm it's way back into my daily routine. It is in those moments I realize everyday I must read and fill myself up with the word of God, and have Him realign my thoughts and heart. Just like my teeth, my heart abandons the correct place it ought to be.
I want to be realigned. It feels amazing when I wake up the morning and feel my teeth straight, just as they ought to be.
It feels even more amazing when I find my heart realigned back to His perfect will -- to feel my thoughts be renewed and transformed by the power of His grace.
Lord, let me be realigned.
"Sin will keep you from this Book. This Book will keep you from sin"