From the time I could hold a crayon in my chubby little hand, I’ve enjoyed creating various “works of art.” Many of those masterpieces ended up under the Christmas trees for family and friends. One year it was 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 (don’t laugh).
When I was 17, it was the year of the candle. Everyone from Grandma Edwards to my best friends received praying hand 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 prosthesis laboratory with hands littering the counters.
One night 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. “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, leaped over my dad who had fallen asleep on the den floor in front of the television, and threw open the door.
I let my date in and dashed to my room to run a brush through my hair, swipe mascara through my lashes, and place 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 Kramden. After about 15 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 18 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 off the stove!”
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, across the ceiling, and down the wall on the opposite 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 and ran to the kitchen faster than a speeding bullet. He 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 wore off, I had time to reflect on the incident: the speed at which the flames blazed around the room, the feeling of fire licking against my skin, the terrifying sound of the flames. I also learned just how easy it was to stop the blaze. Simply put a lid on it.
Isn’t that the way with our words? We can quickly explode with fiery words, and the destruction spreads up one wall and down the other before we even know it. Solomon wrote, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases” (Proverbs 26:20 ESV). In other words, put a lid on it.
As soon as my father placed a lid on the pot and removed the flames’ source of oxygen, the fire went out. I love what Job said after God put him in his place for questioning his actions: “I will put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4). It’s interesting that my hand fits perfectly over my mouth. Go ahead and give it a try. I bet yours does too. Some of us may need two hands. That’s okay! Perhaps that was God’s intentional design!
Lord, thank You for my hand that fits perfectly over my mouth. Help me to use it more often. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Today, consider setting a pot lid on your kitchen counter as a reminder to “put a lid” on any words that want to escape from your mouth that you KNOW should stay in the pot. If you do it, post a picture over on my Facebook page. Just look for today’s post.
If you’ll commit to leaving a pot lid on your kitchen counter for 1 week, leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it!”
Looking for your next Bible study? Check out Sharon’s book and Study Guide, The Power of A Woman’s Words: How the Words You Say Shape the Lives of Others. Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life. Learn how to
- exchange careless words that hurt for intentional words that help others succeed
- recognize words that tear down confidence and replace them with words that build others up
- overcome the negativity that pushes people away and become a well of positivity that draws others in
- tame your tongue by practicing practical principles that help you think before you speak
- stop being disappointed in your lack of control by taking hold of the power of the Holy Spirit