>We’ve heard the sayings so many times – they are nothing new to us. “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” “Things are not always the way they appear.” But, we still do it, don’t we? First impressions are still very powerful, and preconceived notions shape our thinking on a daily basis.
This week God used every-day tasks to remind me of the importance of making it a point to look beyond my first impressions and preconceived notions. I’ve mentioned the nasty oven and my procrastination in cleaning it. Well, after God’s little message to my heart the other day, I did set to work cleaning the oven. On Monday Doug made sure I had extra long gloves to protect my arms as I reached into the oven. So, Monday night I sprayed the oven with heavy-duty oven cleaner. Even with the heavy-duty stuff, I figured it would take two or three repetitions to really get that oven clean. I mean, it was really nasty! I wondered if I could really and truly get it clean enough to put food in it. I was thinking especially of sweet Steven’s birthday cake. His birthday is coming up in just over a week, and I was going to honor his love for choo-choo trains by making him a Thomas cake for his birthday. But, would I really want to put his special cake in that oven? Could I really clean it enough for our food? Meanwhile, other thoughts passed through my mind. The house is old. In the kitchen alone there are quite a few examples of that. The electrical system is shaky – I can’t run the microwave on high if the toaster oven is running – if I do, I will trip the breaker and all of it will go off! The stovetop is old – it is a push-button electric range, and some of the buttons don’t work. What if the oven followed suit and didn’t even work? I was doing the overnight cold oven cleaning, and I hadn’t even tested the oven yet. What if all of this was a waste of time?
As I sprayed the oven with a ton of cleaner Monday night, trying hard to avoid the nasty fumes, I kept wondering how I would feel when all was said and done if the oven didn’t work. In fact, I expected to have problems. I expected that we’d have to find another baking solution. The next morning as I opened the oven door and prepared to wipe it down, I expected issues with truly getting it clean. I greatly doubted the power of the cleaner to truly get through that muck, grime, and filth.
Imagine my surprise when, with my first wipe, I could see clean, muck-free oven surface! The more I wiped the more my amazement grew as I saw all that the cleaner was removing. My hopes soared – maybe I truly could get this oven clean enough to cook our food in it, even Steven’s birthday cake! And, I began to even be hopeful that the oven would work.
The oven came clean – really clean! There are still signs of the age of the oven, signs that will never be washed away. But, the oven is clean. Then it was time to test it. Supper that night was scheduled to be something that would bake easily even if the oven temperature wasn’t just right, so I decided to make that my first test. I put the oven thermometer in and went to work. When I opened the oven to put the casserole in, I was shocked to see that the thermostat was perfectly accurate! Not only that, but it remained perfectly accurate! Every time I checked the temperature, it was right! Would you believe that we have NEVER had an oven that was that accurate? In our entire married life, we’ve always had to make adjustments to make sure that our food bakes properly. This oven – this nasty, old oven – surprised us by being the best oven we’ve ever had!
Many things are not what they seem. We are often surprised. My prayer is that I will learn more and more to not let my first impressions guide my opinions. I want to see people and situations through God’s eyes and be sure that I trust in Him instead of in what my eyes see!