With My Head In A Gas Oven, I Started Thinking…


..  cleaning is awfully like forgiveness.

I bought this stuff that promised faithfully to make the job easier.. ‘no scrubbing, no scouring, just splash it on and see it shine again’ type stuff… yeah right.

After soaking racks overnight in a bag filled with an orange snot-like substance which smelled suspiciously like every other oven cleaner I’ve ever known, and after scrubbing 3 steel scourers and 4 fingers’ worth of kak out of the thing, my oven still wouldn’t sparkle like new.. until my eye was caught by something wonderful and dreadful all at the same time..

…the glass panels I’ve been getting my fingers jammed in detach! The rack holders unplug from the walls to allow easy access to the sides of the cavern!  Oh great joy! Had I not been three-quarters of the way through the task, I would have felt quite smug at these thoughtful pieces of oven-design, beautifully engineered to make the chore much less, well, less of a chore.  As it was, red-faced, sweating and covered in black gunk and stinking of a whole year’s worth of burnt garlic bread I detached the detachables and simply and easily washed them, dried them and replaced them – sparkly and new, just like the box promised.

Wouldnt life be easier if we actually understood how it works a little first? Before we try to scrub and scrape away our mistakes with half-baked apologies and semi-formed good intentions to ‘do better next time’ and before we are cut to ribbons and stinking with the sweat of misdirected effort, what if the Maker supplied us with a leaflet showing how things attach, and detach for easy cleaning?

What if the Engineer thought through what would make cleaning and maintenance as easy as possible?  What if we didn’t have to become contortionists to get into every nook and cranny to fish around and gouge out the gunk that accumulates all over us throughout our lives?  What if there were simply directions which brought the Designer’s genius and consideration to life in an easy-to-read format?

Quite frankly, How Clean Is Your House wouldn’t be half as fun if the ‘before’ shots were of a slightly dusty, musty cluttered interior.. no… we love to tut and groan and boak at the grottiness of some peoples’ homes.  We equally love to see the magic of a 3 minute commercial break conjure up a gorgeously spick and span home which has risen from the ashes of gunge.  We buy products that claim to exert the same magic… (they don’t, elbow grease still required. every. single. time.)

What always intrigues me is the ‘stig’ of the dump.   It’s the same story every time, it just got on top of them and then morphed to the point of becoming too overwhelming to tackle and so they give up.  They live life around the mess, amongst the junk and within the stench.  And who could blame them? Where do you start?  But they always seem relatively clean and well-groomed themselves. It never fails to amaze me that they look like normal people, the people you see in the street or the people you work alongside in the office.  No indication of the miry pit that they go home to at night.

We are all the same really.  We all put our masks on, go out and ‘do life’.. but what really lurks behind our closed doors? What kind of dirt and blemish and mess are we coming home to, when we’re all alone and those inner voices start?  How many years of neglect and grime has built up in our souls that we just shut the door on and try to ignore as best we can?

And all the while, the Maker has made it simpler than we imagine to clean it all out, to begin afresh.  We can have a brand new start, a fresh dawn right here, right now, simply by asking for Help.  We acknowledge the rot we have festering in our innermost places and ask the master Cleanser to wash it away as only He knows how.  He’s the expert, He knows how we are put together.  We can scrub and scrape or we can stick our heads in the sand and everything we try to do somehow picks up an odour and the essence of the dirt inside.  Everything starts to whiff vaguely of that burnt-on garlic bread.

So many people are so accustomed to that whiff, they decide to just live with it and go through life weighed down, sticky with the mistakes and failings they make along the way.

Once you’ve experienced that cleansing  forgiveness, you seek it every day.   ‘Keep a short account with God’ I was once told and sure enough I learned the meaning of His grace and mercies being ‘new every morning’.  It’s like being washed from the inside out.  A sumptuous, fresh, liberating sensation that is addictive in itself.

Next time I feel that oven needs a good clean, I will do it according to the Maker’s instructions instead of my own silly way.

Oh, and I won’t be leaving it so long until next time either.

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