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Girlfriends in God - Sept. 8, 2008

September 8, 2008
Put a lid on It
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” (James 3:5 NIV) 

Friend to Friend
From the time I could hold a crayon in my chubby little hand, I’ve enjoyed creating various “works of art.”  For my family and friends, my latest endeavors usually found their way under the Christmas tree and into their hands.  One year it was woven macramé hanging plant holders.  Another it was a menagerie of decoupage wooden boxes.  Then there were the years of framed cross-stitch, ceramic nativity sets and quilted pig and chicken pillows.

When I was seventeen, it was the year of the candle.  Everyone from Grandma Edwards to my best friends at school received praying hands candles.  For weeks I slaved over a hot stove, stirring melted wax, meticulously centering ten inch wicks, then slowly pouring the red, green, or yellow molten material into inverted molds in the shape of praying hands.  When the wax hardened, I burped the rubber mold and plopped out the candle.  My kitchen looked like a prostheses laboratory with hands littering the counters.

I was cooking up a fresh batch of hands when the doorbell rang.  “Oh, my word!”  I cried as I glanced at the clock on the oven. “I’ve lost track of time.  Jim’s here!”

I was having so much fun waxing and wicking that I forgot the time.  I had a date at 7:30 and here I was in pink hot curlers and a paraffin covered sweatshirt.   I rushed through the kitchen, leapt over my dad who had fallen asleep on the den floor in front of the television, and threw open the door.

“Hi Jim,” I huffed.  “Come on in.  I’m not ready.”

“So I noticed,” he said with a grin.

“I was cooking candles and lost track of time,” I explained.

“You were what?” he questioned.

“Never mind,” I continued.  “Just come on in and have a seat on the couch.  I’ll be ready in a minute.” 

I dashed to the bedroom to run a brush through my hair, swipe mascara through my lashes, and apply a hint of gloss on my lips.  Jim sat uncomfortably on the sofa, listening to my father snore to the bantering of Jackie Gleason and Ralph Cramden.  After about fifteen minutes, Jim smelled something burning.  He didn’t want to yell for me for fear of waking up my dad, so he tiptoed into the kitchen and discovered a pot sitting on the stove with flames shooting up about eighteen inches in the air.

Sleeping dad or no sleeping dad, Jim called out.  “Sharon!  Whatever you were cooking is on fire!”

“Oh my goodness,” I exclaimed.  “I forgot to turn the stove off.”

Just as I burst into the kitchen, Jim threw a cup of water into the flaming wax.  Rather than extinguish the flames, the fire exploded upward.  The flames shot up the wall, over the ceiling and down the wall on the other side of the room.  Our screams woke my father to see his daughter standing in a room surrounded by flames.  With the agility of Superman, Dad sprang to his feet, ran to the kitchen faster than a speeding bullet, grabbed the lid of the pot and clamped it down on the source of the flames.  Just as quickly as the fire had erupted, it receded back into the pot like a Genie returning to his bottle.

This all happened in a matter of seconds. We stood in the middle of the room like three stunned deer.  I never did tell my dad that it was Jim who threw the water on the burning wax.  Teenage boys already have two strikes against them when they walk through the threshold to pick up a man’s baby girl. 

After the shock of the incident wore off, I had time to reflect on the incident: the speed at which the flames engulfed the room, the feeling of fire licking against my skin, the terrifying sound of the blaze.  It made me think about my words and how easily they can explode and singe those around me.  I saw and understood the destructive power of our words and the speed at which that destruction can spread.  But you know what I also learned?  I learned just how easy it is to stop the blaze: put a lid on it.  As soon as my father placed a lid on the pot and removed the flame’s source of oxygen, the flame abated.  I think Job had the right idea when he said, “I will put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4).  It is interesting to me that my hand fits perfectly over my mouth.  Give it a try.  How about you?  Is your hand ample to cover that spark shooting orifice?  Perhaps that was God’s intentional design! 

Let’s Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, help my words be pleasing in Your sight today.  Help me to use my words to build up rather than tear down, to encourage rather than discourage, and to help rather than hurt.  And Lord, if I get ready to say something that is neither kind nor necessary, help me to put a lid on it.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Now It’s Your Turn
When is the last time you said something you wish you hadn’t?
What effect did it have on the person to whom you said it?
What effect did it have on your own heart?  Did you feel remorseful after you said it?
What would have been the outcome if you had just kept that thought to yourself?
Let’s memorize Psalm 19:14 together: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

More from the Girlfriends
We have great power in the words that we speak.  If you would like to learn more about how to control that mighty force - the tongue, and use your words to bless others, see Sharon’s book The Power of a Woman’s Words and The Power of a Woman’s Words Bible Study Guide.

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