A Blackened Mess


Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. –Proverbs 28:13 NIV

When I bought a self-cleaning range, I thought I’d have a nice, clean oven without all the work. All I had to do was push a few buttons and let the range do the job.

But after 20 years, the self-cleaning feature stopped working. Which meant if I wanted the burned-on remains of spilled lasagna sauce and an upended pizza gone, I’d have to carve out the time and apply the elbow grease myself.

Who has the time for that?

So I let it go, and my once shiny oven became blacker with each use.

Before Thanksgiving I caved in and called the service department where I bought the range. Unfortunately, there was no simple fix. In fact there was no fix at all for a range that old. But an over-the-counter oven cleaner would work just fine, the storeowner told me.

But he hadn’t seen the burned-on, blackened messes.

So I let it go. I just had too much to do to take the time to clean the oven the old-fashioned way. After the holidays I’d tackle the messy job.

Thankfully all the holiday baking and roasting was done when something happened that put the oven out of commission.

Since my youngest son, David, was coming for Christmas Eve with his girlfriend and her parents, and David’s birthday was the day after Christmas, DH baked David a birthday cake. We wanted it to be a surprise, so before we left for church, he hid the cake in the oven. Two number-3 candles rested atop the plastic cover.

After the church service, David and company arrived home before we did. He didn’t know about the hidden cake when he preheated the oven to make something for our meal.

So while he beat out the flames with a metal spatula, Dean and I opened the windows and patio door, and got the fans going to disperse the smoke.

The cake was fine. The cover was a little melted, but still usable. But the candles! Suffice to say we wouldn’t be using the oven until the mother of all oven messes was cleaned up.

Which DH did last Saturday.

I’m like that oven. With use, I, too, become dirty. My “inner person” that is. Even though I received Jesus as my Savior, even though my sins are forgiven and my guilt washed away. Even though the Holy Spirit resides within me, I still fight my human nature. It doesn’t rule me, understand—but I still have the choice to obey or not to obey God.

And sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I let my emotions take over and say things I shouldn’t. Or allow my resentment to simmer until it boils over into anger. Or I avoid doing something I know I should.

Although we don’t come with a self-cleaning feature, we do have a simple way to remove the sin that blackens our souls—before it becomes a burned-on, hardened mess. It’s called confession.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).

Forgiveness and cleansing—I need these daily. And to get them, all I have to do is ask.

Thank You, Lord, for providing the way for my sins to be forgiven. All I have to do is ask. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 32

Other Scripture to think about:

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord“Though your sins are like scarlet,  they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.. – Ps. 103:12

He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:19

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.




Photo courtesy of Ken Banks, kiwanja.net
Photo courtesy of Ken Banks, kiwanja.net

Live in harmony with one another. – Romans 12:16 (NIV)

I often complain to my husband of nearly 43 years that I feel more like his personal assistant than his wife. Filling out forms, researching information online, scheduling appointments, and making phone calls add to an already overloaded to-do list. The paperwork is the worst.

“You have no idea of the time it takes,” I grumble. “I have other stuff I have to do, you know.”

But Dean works 11-hour days five days a week then comes home to an evening of more work around the house and property. He doesn’t have time for the plethora of paperwork that comes with living these days, especially when you’re planning retirement.

And filling out forms is not always quick, easy, or simple.

Take, for example, the form I completed for him last week—one of those labeled “EZ.” The directions, which I dutifully read first, said the form “on average will take 30 minutes to complete. This includes the time it will take to read instructions, gather the necessary facts and fill out the form.”

“Yeah, right,” I muttered—and timed myself.

Over an hour later—and I’d had the facts they wanted at my fingertips—I finished, except for one box, which needed a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Dean was to ask a co-worker who’d already gone through the process about it, so I called him. The co-worker told him to call Brenda at the organization. Two phone calls later, I reached Brenda, who gave me the information I needed, and I finished the form. All it needed was Dean’s signature.

Feeling accomplished, I texted Dean with a list of things I’d already done that morning — “all before breakfast,” I boasted.

“Forget the form,” he texted back. “I’ll work ‘til I die.”

What? Where did that come from?

When he came home from work, he apologized for the text and explained why he sent it.

“You listed all these things you did, and I thought you meant you didn’t have time to do one more thing,” he said.

Oh. That was where it came from.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “That wasn’t what I meant, but I can see how you’d take it that way. I do complain about being your personal assistant at times, don’t I?”

We kissed and made up, and I deleted the text. But I can’t delete how those words made him feel on a hot, busy, frustrating day at work. Or how his words made me feel.

It isn’t always easy to forgive and forget. We hold onto hurts, nursing grudges, sometimes about a perceived offense the other person has no clue about. I didn’t understand why Dean was so upset until he explained it to me.

I have to learn to be mindful of what I say in the first place. “I didn’t think” is too frequent an excuse that accompanies my apology. Think and pray first, then speak—or don’t speak.

I’ve also learned how important it is to clear up any misunderstandings right away. Molehills have a way of becoming mountains, if we let them.

Getting along with others, especially those we’re closest to, is like the paperwork I dread doing—it can get complicated and it takes time—but is so worth the effort.

Father, remind me to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Romans 12:9–20