The Gift of A Timely Word

One of my favorite poets says, “When it’s Christmas, we’re all of us magi…heavy laden with parcels: each one his own king, his own camel.” Later in the poem, he call us “the bearers of moderate gifts.”

He has me on all accounts. I love driving my camel (er, my car) at Christmas time to gather up thoughtful, yet very moderate gifts to give to those I love. All the Starbucks cards for the teachers, the candy for the stockings, the slippers for my husband, the treats for the dogs.

But as much as I love to offer a Peppermint Mocha or a fresh new journal or a beautiful throw pillow (thanks, Chip and JoJo), I am trying hard to fight the urge to offer these primarily. After all, our beds abound with cute, boho throw pillows, but that doesn’t mean don’t fall asleep crying into them. Our endless Starbucks stops aren’t doing the job of fueling deeper purpose and lasting satisfaction.

Our world (or more specifically our souls) are longing for a timely word that speaks to us where we are, offering hope and direction. Generic platitudes won’t do. Memes don’t motivate for long enough. We long to know that God has a specific verse, a specific promise, a specific direction to meet us in the places of our confusion or pain or apathy.

The writer of Proverbs understood the gift of a timely word: “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23).

In his book The Town Beyond the Wall, writer Elis Wiesel captures a similar sentiment: “Sometimes it happens that we travel for a long time without knowing that we have made the long journey solely to pronounce a certain word, a certain phrase, in a certain place. The meeting of the place and the word is a rare accomplishment.”

The problem with offering such a timely word, one has been incubating and bathed in prayer, is that, in order to have such a word, we have to be still and available enough to listen. A timely word requires having a tongue which has been taught which requires an eager ear.

The Tongue of Those Who Are Taught and the Eager Ear

In a portion of Isaiah in which the Spirit speaks of the coming servant who will save Israel, we read the following:

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may known how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward” (Isaiah 50:4-5).

Christ always had a timely word for those he encountered. He was able to offer life-altering and life-sustaining words because he always listened to the Father. His eager ear and obedient posture ensured that he would have the tongue of one who is taught. 

While, this side of glory, the same will not be said of us, we are invited to become more and more like our Master. I long to be able to offer the tongue of one who is taught to those I encounter this holiday season and all year round. This requires that I fight the strong urge to go bustling about my day, checking things off my growing to-do list. This means that I have to show up every morning in the presence of the Lord with expectancy that he has living and abiding words to speak into and over me. I have to fight to believe that the crumbs from our little private feast might be enough to feed hungry, hurting souls I encounter as I go about my day. 

May we run to the Father with eager ears, believing that he surely has a word for us since he became the Living Word for us. May we have tongues that are taught and ready to sustain weary ones with his word. May we not settle for platitudes but press more deeply into the presence of God. 

Most certainly offer the gift cards and the slippers and the cookies, but also seek to offer a timely word. 

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