Freezer Problems

When my family lived in Rio de Janeiro, I owned a ham radio. I kept it in the utility room on top of the freezer. When we traveled, I always unplugged the radio and disconnected the antenna.

Once, when we were leaving for a week-long trip, I remembered I hadn't unplugged the radio. I ran back in the house, pulled the plug, and dashed out again.

But I pulled the wrong plug. I unplugged the freezer. It was summertime, and summer in Rio redefines the word hot. Our apartment was on the top of a fourteen-floor apartment building, which adds another degree of intensity to the word hot. For seven days, then, a freezer full of food sat in a sweltering apartment with the power off. (Why are you groaning?)

When we came home, Denalyn decided to get some meat out of the freezer. As she opened the freezer doorwell, I won't go into details as to what she saw, but I will say it was a moving experience.

Guess who got fingered as the one who had unplugged the freezer-and who therefore would be responsible for cleaning it? You got it. So I got to work.

What is the best way to clean out a rotten interior? I knew exactly what to do. I got a rag and a bucket of soapy water and began cleaning the outside of the appliance. I was sure the odor would disappear with a good shine, so I polished and buffed and wiped. When I was through, the freezer could have passed a Marine boot-camp inspection. It was sparkling.

But when I opened the door, that freezer was revolting. (Are you wondering, "Now what kind of fool would do that?" Read on and you'll see.)

No problem, I thought. I knew what to do. This freezer needs some friends. I'd stink, too, if I had the social life of a machine in a utility room. So, I threw a party. I invited all the appliances from the neighborhood kitchens. It was hard work, but we filled our apartment with refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, and washing machines. It was a great party. A couple of toasters recognized each other from the appliance store. Everyone played pin the plug on the socket and had a few laughs about limited warranties.

The blenders were the hit, though; they really mixed well.

I was sure the social interaction would cure the inside of my freezer, but I was wrong. I opened it up, and the stink was even worse!

Now what?

I had an idea. If a polish job wouldn't do it and a social life didn't help, I'd give the freezer some status!

I bought a Mercedes' sticker and stuck it on the door. I painted a paisley tie down the front. I put a "Save the Whales" bumper sticker on the rear and installed a cellular phone on the side. That freezer was classy. It was stylish. It was . . . Cool. I splashed it with cologne and gave it a credit card for clout.

Then I backed away and admired the high-class freezer. "You just might make the cover of Popular Mechanics," I told it. It blushed. Then I opened the door, expecting to see a clean inside, but what I saw was putrid-a stinky and repulsive interior.

I could think of only one other option. My freezer needed some high-voltage pleasure! I immediately bought it some copies of Playfridge magazine-the publication that displays freezers with their doors open. I rented some films about foxy appliances. (My favorite was The Big Chill.) I even tried to get my freezer a date with the Westinghouse' next door, but she gave him the cold shoulder.

After a few days of supercharged, after-hours entertainment, I opened the door. And I nearly got sick.

I know what you're thinking. The only thing worse than Max's humor is his common sense. Who would concentrate on the outside when the problem is on the inside?

Do you really want to know?

A homemaker battles with depression. What is the solution suggested by some well-meaning friend? Buy a new dress.

A husband is involved in an affair that brings him as much guilt as it does adventure. The solution? Change peer groups. Hang out with people who don't make you feel guilty!

A young professional is plagued with loneliness. His obsession with success has left him with no friends. His boss gives him an idea: Change your style. Get a new hair­cut. Flash some cash.

Case after case of treating the outside while ignoring the inside-polishing the case while ignoring the interior. And what is the result?

The homemaker gets a new dress, and the depression disappears... for a day, maybe. Then the shadow returns. The husband finds a bunch of buddies who sanction his adultery. The result? Peace... until the crowd is gone. Then the guilt is back.

The young professional gets a new look and the people notice... until the styles change. Then he has to scurry out and buy more stuff so he won't appear outdated.

The exterior polished; the interior corroding. The outside altered; the inside faltering. One thing is clear: Cosmetic changes are only skin deep.

By now you could write the message of the beatitude. It's a clear one: You change your life by changing your heart.

The Applause of Heaven

copyright [Word Publishing, 1996] Max Lucado, p. 113-116.

Used by permission

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