Have I ever told you how I decided to go into Dentistry? I get questioned about this a lot and find it hard to explain. So, usually, I say It’s a long story” and leave it at that.
The question arose again, a couple of weeks ago, as I was once again the patient and I told my partner’s assistant how bad a dental patient I was when I was a kid. I was a dentist’s nightmare, hating needles” as much as anyone, neglecting to look after my teeth, and being a worse patient than most. So once again I said, It’s a long story.”
How do I tell someone who only has a superficial understanding of God, that God told me to do this, that He called” me to this career, without sounding completely loony? That this is my ministry, my vocation? That a voice spoke? That I did actually follow God in this a career choice that was way out of my range of choices? Heck, there is hardly any way to tell this to anyone non-Christians will think I’m weird and Christians may think I’m arrogant.
But the fact is; it is true. This was one of the times when God did speak to me, fairly directly, in a way that I knew it was specific to me and specifically about what I should do. It was maybe the third time in my life that I heard Him so plainly. The first time I was four He called me to be His child. The second time I was thirteen and He called me to go wherever He sent me. Hearing Him call me to choose a specific career was not at all something I had been searching for but there He was anyway speaking to me.
I was working at camp for the summer as a cook or a counselor that part of the memory is fuzzy and doesn’t really matter. The missionary speaker for the camp was Harvey Widman a huge man with a bald head full of stories that he told with his own wild sense of humor. He was easy to listen to. So there I was listening, engrossed in his stories. Hearing him tell how God wanted us to consider missions as an option. Then he listed off the various careers that God might use us in. When he said dentist” it was spoken to me. God had somehow singled me out and planted his wish right in the middle of my mind.
I began to prepare. My dentist must have been amazed at my sudden change in attitude towards his profession. He was a Christian so I wonder what he heard from God or saw in me to make the necessary recommendations to the college. Before I knew it I was in pre-dent and although I was not a brilliant student, I obtained one of ten spots in the new college at the U. of Saskatchewan. That in itself was incredible. I was extremely shy and reserved. Maybe they were looking for women who were not rabid feminists someone they could tolerate who knows, but we, the two women in the class, were both daughters of the clergy. Maybe it was the great manual dexterity on the DAT (as if!!!). Or the recommendation. Or maybe… I knew that if I was accepted that it was definitely God.
And it was. And for the past thirty two years it has been(for the most part) a fantastic time of letting my hands be His hands at work, in a profession I thoroughly enjoy. Half of my career has been spent as a dentist in the Congo and most of the other half in Prince Albert. Time off has been scarce one year as a non-resident alien in the USA, a few weeks off before and after the babies were born and a few months here and there moving or adjusting to moves and evacuations. It’s been a good career and I still have a few years left, I think. My profession and any ability I have to do it well has been His gift to me.
And now…well, He seems to be calling again to go back. That was one of the things I heard from Him at the weekend retreat. Back to people and a place that I learned to love. Back to practicing and teaching dentistry at Karawa for a couple of weeks. Back a little more mature physically and spiritually. It will be such a short visit but I think it will be good.