Watch out, you’ll burn your hands


Even in early old age, there is much to learn. Figuring out what you don’t know is one of the hardest. And yes, it’s precisely because you don’t know.

While this truth seems self-evident, often it’s not. One result of not knowing is that life becomes full of surprises. Maybe not every day, but often. The surprises come rolling in from unexpected places. Most of them show up in human form with people being the primary source. Questions posed by others like, “Did you know……..?,or, “Can you….”? Or “Will you……?” are often the harbinger of surprise. Watching people at the airport or in lines or even in church bring sometimes funny surprises and the insights that go along with them.

Growing up in the Dutch Reformed Church meant attending services twice on Sunday. For years I watched with fascination as the big wooden collection plate passed me by. The one with the green felt on the bottom so the coins wouldn’t make so much noise or be so noticeable. I once heard a minister pray for more “quiet” money. One Sunday evening, I had a quarter to put in the plate. Mom, dad, and I were sitting in the back and unfortunately, the plate was heavy. A buddy of mine was sitting two spots away and he was not paying attention and dumped the whole plate on the floor. Pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters flew everywhere. Some rolled past surprised feet all the way to the front. Without a thought, I stood, threw my quarter and yelled, “Hey Chuck, here’s mine too!”

Sunday in our life group a precious member shared the pain experienced by her 7-year-old granddaughter after she burned her hands on the glass fireplace screen. I never heard of such an accident. She assured me that it happens often. I was surprised to learn about this purportedly common, painful experience. Much to my surprise, I got a text from one of our team members the very next day. He was taking his 1-year-old to the “burn center.” Learning to stand up, she crawled fast towards the fire and put her hands on the glass to help her stand.

Here’s the point – there is always more to learn.

Whether it’s about ourselves, from other people or the circumstances of life. My grandfather’s question still rings in my ears, “Why is experience the best teacher?” Answer: Because it is the most expensive.”

A benefit of growing older is that we’ve had our hands burned more often.

Life’s experiences and how we respond to them shape our present and our future.

I know not to throw good money after bad, that simplifying life helps, and that touching the hot fire hurts. 

Now the challenge is to keep learning and the to apply God’s wisdom to the next experience. God continues to teach and we can – we must – continue to learn!


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