A long time ago, in a kitchen far far away … we had one of those old-style ovens that had to be manually cleaned. We’d spray this formula called Easy Off! onto the walls of the oven — the label stated “No scrubbing necessary” (Heh! Yeah, right!) — then close the door and switch on the heat. An hour or two later there was this stinky sludge caked to the oven walls, which had to be sponged off. It was dark-brown and slimy and downright disgusting. We’d wear gloves while wiping it clean, but always managed to get greasy glop on our exposed arms.
But hey, it had to be done. A clean oven is a happy oven. Not to mention that a clean oven functions more efficiently — and doesn’t embarrass you when guests peak inside it to see what’s for dinner. So we really didn’t mind doing it. Well, maybe just a little. All right, all right, we hated it!
Then one day Sparky came into our lives! No, he’s not a professional oven cleaner — he IS our oven! And he’s self-cleaning!!! Which is a real blessing because, face it, in life stuff happens! For instance, while baking an apple pie, the lava-hot filling often bursts through the crust, flowing through the rack like magma to the oven floor below, where it hardens into rock!
Not a problem! Sparky goes into his self-cleaning mode at the flip of a switch. When he does, he goes into full lockdown. You couldn’t pry his door open with a crowbar! And that’s when things really get hot — literally. We usually give Sparky plenty of space while he’s self-cleaning, about a four-hour process in which our oven incinerates all the crud that’s built up inside of him during the course of his kitchen duties!
Know what? That’s right, people are like ovens: in life, we tend to build up a crusty layer of stuff, and we need cleaning if we’re to be happy (like Sparky) and function efficiently. Things in life have a way of getting messy just like that apple pie filling. Regrets and feelings of hurt, guilt and shame can bubble over and leave us feeling “cruddy”; and if not dealt with, this layer of gunk can separate us, or make us feel distant, from our Heavenly Father.
But unlike Sparky, none of us have a self-cleaning feature. Oh, some of us think we do. We have a relative who once mentioned that he plans to get “right” with God one day, and even start going to church, but first he needs to “clean up his act.” Don’t we all? But that is NOT a prerequisite for being accepted by God. Our Heavenly Father is waiting for us with open arms. He’s inviting us to come as we are. “…He has made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6 American King James)
Some of us believe we can’t face God until we get out of an improper relationship, or stop drinking, abusing drugs, etc. Only we’re like those old-fashioned ovens. We’re good at cooking up a mess — even when we’re trying to be “good” — but we don’t have the right “formula” to de-gunk ourselves; or the “muscle” needed to scrub the innermost parts of our lives.
Not to worry. God does! And He has NEVER expected us to try to clean up our own messes before approaching Him. That’s why He sent us His only Son as a Savior. Jesus Christ is the real, Spiritual Easy Off! (No scrubbing necessary!) So, don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise!
But again, that’s why God accepts us as we are: who we are and where we are. He recognizes a good oven when He sees one, despite the grime on the inside. After the “oven” is in “His house,” then He sets about cleaning it (us) … until it sparkles like new. And as with an oven, He cleans us from the inside out! In other words, God loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way!
“But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” (Acts 2:21 NLT)
Are you feeling gunked up today? Not “cooking” as smoothly as you should? Call out to your Heavenly Father. He collects ovens of all colors and models, and then restores them to showroom condition: sparkling clean inside and out!
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)