Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
What’s On The Outside
On our recent family camping trip I taught next to oldest daughter how to use my favorite discovery, the dutch oven. While new to me, the dutch oven is hundreds of years old with the first ones being cast in the early 17th century. They were so important to early American settlers that they were handed down in wills from family member to family member. I have seen a well seasoned frying pan go for several hundred dollars at auction.
The problem for most people, myself included, is that in order for it to work properly you can’t wash it with soap. You can wash it with hot water, give it a light scrub (never with an abrasive pad), and then oil it up to sit for the next use. It becomes a dark, sticky mess on the outside especially if you use it over camp fires. The inside becomes better than any non stick pan in your kitchen. You can even bake a cake in it that slides out with no clumps stuck to the bottom.
While every woman in my family history owned a well seasoned cast iron frying pan, I was the one to break that chain. I couldn’t imagine how a good washing and scrubbing could hurt that nasty mess so I constantly tried to keep mine clean. And as you can imagine, it never worked properly. Everything I tried to cook in it became a sticky mess that required more scrubbing and washing. For whatever reason, my arrogance would not allow me to just simply follow the directions and use it properly. Many years ago I threw away all the cast iron that had been given to me.
While researching a better way to cook while camping (I was getting tired of hot dogs and beans all the time), I came across articles about the dutch oven cooking. Older and wiser, I purchased a small three legged version and a love affair with outdoor cooking was born. I am now very diligent in how I care for my cast iron cookware, following the seasoning directions, making sure it is handled properly before and after using. It is absolutely the most valuable piece of camping equipment I own. (Unless of course you count the portable toilet but that’s a different issue for a fifty year old woman)
As I properly cleaned and oiled the oven after our recent trip I was struck by the similarities of my life and that simple cast iron pot. When I purchased the oven it was shiny and new. In the past, when I had used cast iron, I wanted people to be impressed by how clean and shiny it was. I could pull it out of the cupboard with pride. But what people did not know was that it was completely unusable, devoid of the necessary components that made it function. Pretty to look at yet completely useless.
Well seasoned cast iron cookware is not pretty to look at, at least by the casual observer. But those who truly understand how it works know that while the outside looks dirty and greasy, the inside is a marvelous magical cooking surface the produces food with a taste that can’t be replicated by any shiny non stick version.
How often do I try to appear shiny and new to the people around me? How often do I want friends to think that I am not marred by the dirtiness of life? How many times do I try to scrub my life clean without following the proper instructions that my Abba has written out for me? How much goodness have I missed out on because I thought that scarred and messy on the outside meant the inside was of no value and usefulness (James 2:1-5)? How many times have I judged someone by using their outward appearance? How many chances have I missed to serve up something good from the experiences that have seasoned me?
Dearest Father God, thank you for such an amazing time camping. I am always grateful for time spent with family in the serenity of your great outdoors. Thank You for showing me that what is on the outside doesn’t have anything to do with what is in someone’s heart. Thank You for letting me see that following the exact directions of Your words will bring me to a fullness of heart and soul. You are an awesome God and I am forever learning new and wonderful things from Your grace and mercy. In the name of Christ, my Brother, Amen