The pan of oats was cooking on the stove. I would stir it repeatedly when I had a chance. I didn’t keep an eye on it throughout the whole process because I was busy doing other things. Washing dishes. Baking. Cleaning vegetables. So I wasn’t minding the oatmeal as thoroughly as I should have. But I would walk over and stir it as needed. I know that oats can easily stick to the pan if they’re not stirred constantly. And I wasn’t stirring constantly. I’ve cooked oatmeal many times, and I know what’s involved. But on this occasion I was trying to multitask, and the oatmeal didn’t have my undivided attention.
Later I smelled something burning and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I checked the vegetables roasting in the oven. No. They were fine. They weren’t burning. I was stirring the oats off and on, so they shouldn’t be burning. So I just ignored this scorched odor. When the oats were finished, I turned the burner off and set them aside to cool. I wasn’t just making one serving for my breakfast. I was making a batch of oatmeal to be eaten over several days. I like to batch cook for the week so my food is ready to heat up anytime I’m hungry. So on this particular day, I was cooking oatmeal for the week.
Once the oatmeal was cooled, I began dishing it into a storage container. That was when I noticed the burn on the bottom of the pan. The oatmeal had stuck to the bottom of the pan. Now there was a black char on the pan. That was what had caused the scorched odor.
I was able to preserve most of the oatmeal because it was only burned on the bottom. I knew the oatmeal I saved had some scorching running through it, but I saved it anyway. I thought it would be okay when I ate it over the next few days. I could pull out large clumps of burned oatmeal and eat the rest. It seemed a simple idea. But when I saw how burned the pan was, I knew I wouldn’t be able to clean it quickly or easily. I knew it would need to soak overnight. So that’s what I did. I put some cleaning solution in the pan and let it soak.
The next morning when I began cleaning the pan, not all of the burn came off. Some of it was still stuck on the pan. Some parts came clean pretty easily. But others not so much. I added more cleaning solution and water to start the soaking process all over again. Scraping wasn’t enough to remove all of the black soot from the bottom of the pan. And my goal was to get the pan as clean as possible. I wanted it to look as if it had never been burned. But I wasn’t sure if I had ruined the pan or not. Apparently only time will tell.
The batch of oatmeal isn’t all burned. Only the bottom portion of it is inedible. And only the bottom of the pan is scorched. Most of the oatmeal can still be eaten and enjoyed without the burnt taste. The pan can be used again once it is properly cleaned.
Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
When we repent of our sins and choose to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the burnt oatmeal of sin is removed from our lives. We still have scorch marks on us that represent the sins of our past. It doesn’t mean our lives are ruined. It means that we live with the results of our former sins.
Sin can creep into our lives if we aren’t paying attention. We ignore the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit to stop a certain activity. Or we don’t act on the Holy Spirit’s leading. We allow activities in our lives that we once hated. We become accustomed to using certain words in our conversations that were once forbidden. We become comfortable with situations that were once uncomfortable. And we call it good. We become willing to work around the burnt oatmeal that is building up in our lives. After all, we are good people. That’s what we tell ourselves.
Some of those scorch marks can be easily removed. The burned char can be cleaned away with the act of forgiveness, but the results of that char representing the sin that has long encased our hearts can be hard to remove. It could be bad habits. Or it could be jealousy or greed or lying or lust. It could be just blatant selfishness. Sometimes a lot of work goes into erasing or cleaning up the results of black charred sin. So some of the black char may remain forever. It may always be present in our lives because while God’s forgiveness takes away that burden of sin, some acts of sinfulness have consequences which reap long lasting effects. Those can’t be easily scrubbed away with cleaning solution and soaking. Sometimes the result of those sins are lifelong. And we have to deal with the consequences for all the days of our lives on this earth.
It’s a lesson for us. When we make foolish decisions. When we choose selfish ways. When we know that our actions go against God’s will. There are consequences that sometimes can’t be easily wiped away in our lives. Yes, God forgets those sins when he forgives us. And to him they are no more. But the consequences in our human lives can still remain. That’s what we need to consider. Not just the fact that we’re sinning. But the consequences of those sins. When we make choices in our life. That moment of enjoyment. That so called fun activity or behavior that misrepresents God or rejects God or distorts his will. Those have consequences. So we have to be prepared to live with the results of our sin. While we still have breath, we can be forgiven. But that doesn’t make life easy and perfect.