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Instruction Manuals: When in Doubt

I learned something (actually, more than one thing) last week when I was using the self-clean cycle on my new oven.

  • Replace what no longer works. The first oven in our home functioned nearly twenty years. I cannot say the same for our other major appliances. We have replaced the refrigerator and the dryer twice. We have replaced the washer and the dishwasher three times. It isn’t that the oven wasn’t used. Eventually, the burners showed signs of shorting out or not heating efficiently. Or not working at all. I had to adjust the oven temperature up five degrees to ensure my tried-and-true recipes cooked through to completion. But, unlike the other appliances, we were able to limp along using a few tricks. Finally, we accepted the fact that we had to replace the oven, and we did so before Thanksgiving in 2019.
  • Not all ovens are created equal. Even though we entertained less, we cooked at home more than ever in 2020. With shortages in manufacturing industries (something we learned when we had to replace the dishwasher in the fall), I am grateful the oven was a 2019 purchase. We bought a design similar to our previous oven. But, I’m still adjusting to the different knobs and how they function for each burner. Then I decided it was about time I clean the oven. I thought the self-cleaning function would work the same way as the other oven.
    • Push the self-clean button.
    • Listen for the locking mechanism.
    • Let the oven do its thing while I did other things.
    • Note the cooling setting after three to four hours.
    • Hear the beep and the locking mechanism disengage.
    • Wipe out the charred remnants.
    • Make dinner.

This new oven, I discovered, functions a little differently.

  • Inspect the control panel. I should have studied the control panel a little closer. It would have saved me some worry later. I never noticed the words near the timer controls to hold the button for three seconds to unlock and lock the oven. But, there is also a lever that needs to be manually shifted. My previous oven did not require my assistance in this manner. When I push the self-clean button on my new oven, the control panel blinks that I need to lock the oven. Then I have to move the lever. Then the cycle starts.
  • Don’t attempt to unlock an oven in the middle of being locked into another activity. I was in the middle of my virtual piano lesson when the oven beeped at the end of the self-clean cycle. I tried to unlock the oven, but the manual switch was stuck tight. This made me a little frazzled because I was in the middle of something else. I walked away, but I was more than a little distracted during the rest of my lesson.
  • Read the instruction manual. After my lesson, I searched for my instruction manual. It was indeed where I had put it. But, I made a mental note to throw out a few manuals I no longer need. I scanned the information about the locking mechanism. I read that it was important to never force the locking handle. Had I forced the locking handle? Had I broken my new oven?! What if I couldn’t make dinner?!?!
  • Google the question. It’s not that I didn’t trust the manual. It’s not that I didn’t believe what it was telling me to do and not to do. It’s not as if I didn’t look at the troubleshooting section. But, I wondered if other people had experienced a similar…concern…about their ovens. So, I went to a secondary resource. Google. I asked the question. Sure enough. Other people had experienced the same dilemma. I also saw the same troubleshooting suggestions that were in the manual.
  • Reset the system. Like other computers, the oven’s computer can get “fried” at times. “Turn it off and on again” as the IT Crowd would say. The troubleshooting suggestion was to restart the self-clean cycle, let it run for about fifteen minutes, and then cancel it. Then see if the locking mechanism can be released. So, I did that. Nope.
  • Wait for the oven to cool down. The next suggestion was to wait for the cooling process to complete. My old oven indicated this stage of the cycle. But, my only indication with this oven was to test the surface temperature by touching it. I liked the old indicator better. I decided that I needed to reset my own system and turn on some patience.
  • Try again. Around this time my youngest son called. We had a deep discussion about doubt and whether it is a sin or not. While I was chatting with him, I told him about my oven dilemma and shared with him how it could be compared to doubt. Wouldn’t I have prevented worry and doubt if I had consulted the oven’s instruction manual first? How can asking others if they have had a similar problem confirm the troubleshooting explanations? What do I need to do to “reset the system?” Why is it important to be patient and let things cool down including myself? When are conditions stable to try again? So, I tried again. I pushed the control panel, the lever disengaged, and I was able to unlock the oven. I know my son heard my exuberance, and I’m pretty sure my husband in the farthest end of the house heard me, too.

I learned quite a bit last week about my oven’s self-clean cycle. More importantly, I was reminded about the importance of reading the instruction manual. First. Here are a few troubleshooting verses I have found helpful when I needed time to cool down and unlock greater truth.

I have stored up your word in my heart,

    that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11 ESV

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:5-6 ESV

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

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