Yesterday my calendar said, “Writing Day.” As I proceeded to get organized to sit down and make my favorite cup of tea, I was woefully distracted as I waited for the water to boil. I stood by my stove and made the mistake of leaning down too closely.
I have a confession, there has been problem in my kitchen. It has been lurking for several years. Nearly seven to be exact and I am now going to make a full confession.
I haven’t cleaned the inside of my oven since we moved into our house.
Please don’t judge me.
I hadn’t thought it looked too dirty until it was sparkly clean and besides I regularly wipe it out if I spill something, at least mostly. Just for the record, my oven is well used and I like to keep a relatively clean kitchen but the oven door is closed 99% of the time right?
Instead of writing (and that is why this blog post is a day later than scheduled) I set the dial to clean the oven. You are probably thinking, if this is a self-cleaning oven why couldn’t you write while it was cleaning?
Somehow because I decided to get that oven clean, everything else screamed for attention and then I made a decision. Monday is going to be a cleaning day so I can feel better about the house when I really sit down to write. Did I tell you that I am a recovering perfectionist? More on that later.
As I was wiping out the charcoal dust after cleaning the oven I noticed some extra stubborn baked on spots that needed a little soft scrub and muscle. I was scrubbing and scrubbing when God gave me a picture of my own heart. There are crevices that are months and probably years old that I have turned on the self-cleaning button thinking that it was fine.
He reminded me that sometimes I have to get a little ‘Holy Spirit Soft Scrub’ and put some muscle into those stubborn spots of bad habits and wrong thinking patterns. I have to linger and scrub, wash out the scum, wipe, scrub and repeat several times until the remnant of my burnt on habits are gone. I have to pray and pray some more. Take captive those thoughts that would stick to the old places already baked on. Have you ever noticed that when you bake how one and then another layer of oozing dessert or a casserole might fall on an already burnt spot making it more difficult to get off?
One of the burnt on baked on places in my heart is falling into negative thinking. It’s easy for me to clean around everything else and wipe right over the crusty habits believing I am okay. I whine. I justify and it doesn’t work, because God cares about my whole heart, not just the places I think are clean.
I realized that the way I think represents a few crusty baked on places in my heart. Life has thrown some curve balls as of late and I can’t fix any of it.
The negative thoughts pile on one another and it can build and build until it screams for attention. God showed me through a simple once every seven-year chore of cleaning my oven. It may take longer than it took for me to clean it but I am making a choice to stop long enough to pay attention to the crusty places and what needs to be surrendered in my heart.
Here are three simple steps to attack those burnt on places in our hearts.
- STOP…Yes, we might even have to set aside something planned, something good, something needful to take a step back and pay attention.
- CONFESS… Be honest with yourself AND God. Sometimes I think that we think God doesn’t know about the crusty baked on places in our hearts. HE DOES! And the beautiful piece is that He still loves us. His love isn’t based on how thick or crusty those layers might be.
- SCRUB… and then scrub some more. Make time to reflect and use the tools God gives us. Scour those places away by renewing our minds with His promises and pray over wrong attitudes and thinking patterns. Get feedback, honest feedback, not from someone who will tell you what your feelings want to hear, but someone who will help hold up the mirror and be brutally candid.
As I was leaning into scrubbing the baked on crusty junk, it was hard. My shoulder hurts today from pressing in. It’s the same way when we work at getting rid of old habits, it can hurt and it might take a while. Lean in and know that God will reward your efforts and your desire to please Him with a pure heart.
After David had sinned and repented, he wrote this, Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (God’s Word Translation). That’s what I am asking God right now. After the scrubbing happens and the crusty places are removed that God would clean me up, create new thoughts and renew in me a faithful spirit. How about you? What crusty baked on places are layering up in your heart?