Testing the Unknown

Two liquids. Both clear, colourless and odourless. One is vital to the health of human tissue; the other corrodes human tissue. One is water, the other, hydrochloric acid.

If you had a sample of both liquids in separate test tubes, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference immediately. But even though they look similar, their properties are very different.

I remember during science labs in high school, there was a protocol whenever we came across an unknown substance, liquids in particular.

The first step was to observe the physical properties of the unknown liquid – mainly colour, odour, and state of the substance at room temperature (solid, gas or liquid). That would eliminate some possibilities.

As a safety measure, we couldn’t put the liquid directly under our noses to smell it. Instead, we had to hold the test tube at a safe distance and fan the air above it with one hand to get a whiff of it.

The next thing we would test was density (the measurement of the amount of matter in a given volume of a substance) and boiling point (the temperature at which a liquid boils and turns to vapor). All the findings put together revealed the identity of the liquid.

There are opportunities and people that may come into your life that, on the surface, look like a blessing. The timing may be impeccable, and you may have prayed for years for that opportunity. But because you are so eager to claim that blessing, you may mistake it for something it is not and end up mistaking hydrochloric acid for water.

Test everything that comes into your life. When circumstances and opportunities knock on your door, take some time to observe them…at first from a safe distance. If their identity is still ambiguous, go beneath the surface and test the properties of that opportunity. It will require some patience, but it will save you from unnecessary pain.




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