I’m going to confess something to you today. I don’t clean my oven nearly as often as I should.
There, I said it.
I keep a clean house — like the bathrooms and floors and normal stuff — but my oven gets neglected. A few weeks ago, after an unfortunate incident involving roasted sweet potatoes, I couldn’t ignore my oven a day longer.
I didn’t have any specialty cleaner on hand (no surprise) so I mixed up a baking soda paste and smeared it all over the inside of my oven and let it sit overnight. The oven racks got the paste treatment, plus a 12-hour soak in my bathtub.
I will tell you that when I got up close and personal to slather on that paste, I was ashamed of all the grimey, gunky buildup that I’d allowed to accumulate. It was way worse than I’d realized. How in the world did it get so bad?
And I will tell you another thing. The next day, when I wiped off that rancid baking soda paste, I was shocked by how easily the caked-on crud slid away to reveal my oven’s smooth walls, good as new. Same with the racks. The crusty who-knows-what utterly surrendered to the soak, revealing the shiny metal sheen that was there all along underneath.
Scrubbing an oven does not ask much of the brain, so mine was left to wander around and stroll in and out of this thought and that. Not sure why, but I started spiritualizing my task. How is a greasy oven like the gospel? (I know, I know.) But all of these spiritual parallels came rushing in unbidden.
And … that brings me to my reflections on a greasy oven.
Reflection 1: Things didn’t look that bad at a glance. But they were bad.
Sometimes I let sin creep into my life little by little — one sizzling tray of bacon at a time — and, after a while, it builds up. I don’t pay enough attention to realize the damage it’s doing. I’d rather just close the oven door and pretend nothing’s wrong. Nobody else knows how bad it is, either, because I don’t let anyone get a good look.
Reflection 2: There came a point when I could no longer turn a blind eye.
The oven’s poor condition rendered it useless. It needed to be cleaned in order to function properly. I, too, need cleansing from sin in order to function — and flourish — the way God intended. Have you ever hit a similar wall in your spiritual life when you knew things needed to change? And you were finally willing to submit to that change?
Reflection 3: Most of the bad stuff came off easily.
This reminded me of how simple it is to accept Jesus Christ’s atonement for my sin and how astonishing it is that the eternal consequence of my sin (death) is cancelled. Is it OK that it’s that easy?! Right now, my oven looks brand new. Is it possible that my soul, which had been so filled with sludge, could actually be restored to that original, pure state? If that isn’t a wonderful thought, then I don’t know what is!
Reflection 4: Some of the bad stuff was stubborn.
There were a few areas of the oven that just wouldn’t clean up without a fight. I had to take a plastic scraper to the carcinogenic glass window. The door needed a second barrage of paste. Isn’t it the same with me? I know God is calling me to do something, and I dig in my heels and say, “No, God. I don’t want to!” These areas of my life should be the most concerning to me and merit a closer, keener look. Maybe a second barrage of prayer. A good scrape with the sword of the Spirit.
Reflection 5: It’s easy to admit to a greasy oven.
I started this article by confessing a very “safe” shortcoming. (If you rolled your eyes at me, that’s kind of what I was going for.) It’s okay for me to tell you about my greasy oven. But, trust me, I’ve got other sins that are not okay to mention here. They are not socially acceptable, nor are they to be under any circumstances petted and tolerated.
We’ve all got these filthy little corners of our lives, but we’ve also got the most powerful cleaning agent available! The cleansing blood of the Lamb! Thank God He didn’t recoil from our greasy buildup but instead took it upon Himself and wiped it clean.
Have you ever been doing something proasic like cleaning your oven and received a spiritual takeaway? Let us know in the comments.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.