Here in the United States, it’s only a couple of weeks until it’s time to lose an hour of sleep and change our clocks forward one hour for daylight savings time. Along with this annual event, we are often encouraged to replace the batteries in our smoke detectors at the same time. Mostly I’ve ignored that rule, but I’ve changed my mind recently. No, I didn’t buy stock in Duracell or suddenly develop an awareness of public safety. It’s just that a smoke detector is something you never really plan to use, but are glad to have when you need it.
Like this past weekend for instance… when my son and my daughter’s boyfriend were working on a project in the basement. They planned to melt wax and hot glue together to produce an easy to carve product for a costuming idea they are working on. Fearing they would make a mess in my kitchen, I suggested they use the spare oven that’s hooked up in the basement to use during the holidays or when we entertain. This is an old style oven (circa 1960) with knobs and dials and well-worn markings for the temperature settings. I mistakenly assumed they could figure out how to put it on the lowest setting to gently melt the wax. Instead, they just turned it on (to 400 degrees), loaded the pan of wax and glue onto the shelf and went off to do whatever 20+ year olds do these days, quickly forgetting to check the temperature or the state of the flammable petroleum products inside.
Fortunately, we were all alerted to the forgotten project by a chorus of smoke detectors and by my daughters who had gone to to see what the boys were up to. What they found was a molten burning mess with flames actually licking out the front of the oven door and a basement full of smoke.
After some effort by all those involved (plus my husband), they were able to smother the sticky napalm inferno without it spilling onto the dry timber on the floor nearby, and a major catastrophe was averted!
Though our house was safe, this event was not without a casualty. My oven was charred …inside and out… the glass for the door window shattered, and the inside permanently permeated with the residue of burnt wax and glue. Of course, after the crisis was over, I received profuse apologies from both of the guys involved, but none of that really erased the fact that my oven was completely destroyed.
I guess the lesson that can be learned from this do-it-yourself project is that sometimes inattentiveness, while not malicious, often does damage that can’t be repaired.
I shouldn’t need to do too much connecting the dots to help believers realize that the same thing can easily happen in our personal lives. We get so easily distracted by things that have lights, bells and interesting notifications, that we fail to pay attention to the truly important things that might be catching fire while our backs are turned. Relationships with our children, spouse, family or friends, reputation or character traits, easily drift from sight, and if left unattended and can burst into flames without us having noticed the warning signs. And unfortunately, if not caught in time, some of those very valuable things can be completely destroyed, and can’t be replaced even with a sincere “I’m sorry.”
The good news is that my oven can be easily replaced (and certainly upgraded!) by jumping on a deal from Craig’s List, but in life, it’s often not that easy. That’s why we need to take seriously the truth of Scripture, and as Hebrews 2:1 says “pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”
So… why don’t you look up from what has your attention today, and check on what might be “burning in the oven” so that perhaps you can rescue it before it’s too late.