As you grow up, you encounter a continuous stream of potentially dangerous situations. How you learn to approach and respond to them will determine many things in your life: from the length of your life, to the health you enjoy along the way, to the level of responsibilities that will be placed in your hands.
I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I watched a grade school friend get their fingers stuck in a door hinge. It was a big heavy school door with a hinge that seemed to devour and hold on to my friend. His screaming and the amount of blood that was produced will be forever etched in my mind. That memory would soon be reinforced as I managed a similar event on my own at home and to this day can look at the scar on my ring finger that had its origin in a door hinge.
The challenge is that these potentially dangerous situations are seldom viewed that way. They are ignored, assumed, or overlooked as everyday parts of normal life. You don’t have to take a safety course before you begin to use doors. In fact, everyone assumes that you know how to use them and to protect yourself from the scar-producing experiences that can await those who naively put their fingers where they don’t belong.
Our naïve approach to life means our first experience with things can be our last. My rural upbringing in the United States meant guns were a common part of life; so common that we were too casual with them. At age twelve I came back from Christmas Vacation to find out that one of my friends had died cleaning a gun for his dad; it was to have been a surprise Christmas gift. But it wasn’t empty and the fatal accident that followed forever changed that family.
A few years later another friend came to school with a cast on his leg. He was trying to play quick draw with his pistol but before he got it out of the holster he pulled the trigger. The bullet put six holes in his leg before it exited out the bottom of his foot.
Guns were common so unfortunately people were casual about them. Cars were my next encounter with the dangerous world that is all around us. During my high school years many friends were involved in accidents, one classmate even killed an elderly couple as he came through an intersection and didn’t see their car in time.
Yes, we had a course we took before we got a license but it obviously didn’t prepare us that well. Statistically we know that young drives are the most dangerous yet we continue to give them the keys to cars without good preparation for what driving a car will entail.
But before doors, guns, and cars, we all opened our mouths and hurt others and ourselves. There is no permit or training at all for the use of our mouths yet, words have started wars, destroyed marriages, abused children and ended careers.
The power that all of these have should make us wary of them and take the time needed to properly prepare for their use. Each one can be very destructive or incredibly helpful. Doors keep out the cold and unwanted strangers. We need doors. Guns have fed families and protected countries. Cars take us where we need to go, sometimes at lifesaving speeds. And words can express the deepest issues of a heart and begin the solution to a critical life problem.
Each has potential to be of great good or great harm. If we learn how to use them for good then we become a part of the solution and not the problem. In the Kingdom of God the Father is always looking for people who can be a part of the solution and not the problem.
2 Timothy 2:20-21