Do you own any custom made jewelry? I am blessed to have one ring which I designed. It is a small pinkie ring, but it has special meaning. After my divorce, I had my wedding ring and engagement ring, but they were not going to be worn. Mom and dad knew I wanted to have them remade into something I could use for a lifetime. They had a couple of diamonds which they wanted me to have - three, in fact. Small stones, but with great meaning because they came from "family" jewelry. So, I designed the small ring and they assisted by giving me the stones and paying to have it custom made. This was about 25 years ago now. The ring carries significant meaning to me - because it was made with the gold from my rings and the stones graciously given. It is small, but with great meaning. I wear it one finger removed from where my wedding band once was and the three stones represent what was left of our family (two children and their mom). We may not still be a "whole family" in the sense of a mom, dad, and children, but we were tightly woven together and held specially in God's hands. There have been times I have just looked upon it and remembered how God has held us, comforted us, been our stronghold in times of great trial, and healed us in times of our greatest hurt.
The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, and a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger. (Proverbs 25:11-12 MSG)
As important as the ring is to me, the right words spoken into my life by those God placed in my life over the past 25 years is equally as significant. Their words spoke life when all seemed to be death around me. Their comfort helped me make it through when I just didn't think I was doing a very good job at being mom to my two kids. Their challenges opened me to explore what God had before me, often taking bolder steps than I would have ever considered on my own. They are the words which "fit" into my life as this custom made ring fits my hand.
Some of their words were reprimands of sorts - not meant to ridicule or bring me down - but meant to set me on course and keep me walking strong. In fact, without those reprimands, I don't know where I would have ended up. It is not the volume of words spoken as much as the meaning of those words and the timeliness of them when delivered. God appoints individuals into our lives, often in the most unlikely ways, who will speak volumes into our lives with only a few words in the right season.
Most of us think of a reprimand as a harsh criticism of something we said or did, but I challenge you to think of it more as a "rudder" on a ship. Those words, spoken in season, tempered in grace, can be the very thing which redirects our course so we avoid unrecognized hazards in our path. I know I would rather have someone point out the hazards than discover them myself! If I am headed into harm's way, I would want someone to point out the potential harm which could come my way.
The right word at the right time - how do you know when it is the right time to bring truth into someone's life? I think you have to count on a couple of things:
- Relationship must be established. You may know the truth, but you may not be the right one to bring it into someone's life because there is no relationship established. When we don't have relationship, it is hard for the hearer of our words to embrace them.
- Timing is critical. We can speak words out of season, but when we do it is like a rain falling on soil which easily washes away the seeds just recently planted. It is important to be sensitive to the timing God would direct. We need to be prayerful and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- Tough words need to be tempered in love. This is why having relationship established is so important. Hard words to receive are not especially easy to receive, but where there is relationship, it is made a little easier because I know the individual has my best in mind. God's grace and love have to be the covering over our words. If they are not, the words will seem harsh, uncaring, or a little demeaning. This is why it is so important to be prayerful and sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Remember this - words spoken in season are a blessing to the hearer. Words spoken where there is relationship established are often hard to speak, but easier to embrace because there is an investment made. The "custom made" jewelry we often place on exhibit in our lives are the result of the tender care and compassionate words of those who have our best in mind. Just sayin!