On Settings

Ada Jewel

This morning my three-year-old, Ada, waited patiently outside my bathroom door for her Daddy to finish getting ready. I had just put her hair up in a new style and she wanted him to see it as soon as possible. When he appeared he gave her just the reaction she was looking for: lavish and exuberant praise! I was touched by how confident she was in his response to her. She has been given a special opportunity – the unconditional love and acceptance of a father.

Ada was a bit of a surprise baby at our house. Her older sister, Claire, was born prematurely and required constant tube feedings into her intestines, among many doctors visits and therapy appointments. In the middle of this, I found out I was three months pregnant. At first we panicked…”I already have a baby!” But then we began to accept the inevitable and Dan started researching names. We chose Ada right away because it meant “beautiful addition.” That is how we began to see her even before she was born. Her middle name is Jewel because we knew she would be just that.

The setting is the surroundings within which a diamond is placed – a specific type of ring, necklace, or other piece of jewelry. My diamond is in a half-moon bezel setting of white gold. The setting is very important for a diamond. It can make a diamond stand out or get lost. It can make a diamond look new and fashionable or old and out of style. The diamond itself is always valuable, always worth at least as much as when it was first bought, but jewelry settings can fade in and out of popularity. Often all a diamond needs is a new setting to bring life back into its shiny facets. Ada is a lucky girl. She is living in a setting that values and appreciates her. The sad facts are that this isn’t true of all little girls. Our goal as a family is to provide a setting that accents her strengths and has mercy on her weaknesses. To put her in a position that makes her shine.

The great thing about God is that He’ll do the same thing for each of us, His living stones. He will lead us to the settings that are just right for our personality, needs, and destiny. Our settings involve families, churches, communities, work places, and more. When we let Him lead, the setting that He creates will be perfect. Afterall, who would know better about the desires of our hearts than the One who created our hearts in the first place! So, wait outside that door today and knock. Jesus promises He will answer, the door will be opened, and I think you’ll love the response that you get.

A Cut from Above

The cutting process for a diamond can be an ugly sight. When looking over a rough diamond, one that is barely recognizable as anything more than an interesting rock, a diamond cutter knows that sometimes more than 50% of that diamond will have to be cut away to produce the most beautiful finished gem possible. In spiritual terms this is like entering a life of discipleship. It is submitting to correction both through organized situations (like school or spiritual mentorship) and through the seemingly unplanned challenges of everyday life. We are shaped by our ability to learn from our mistakes and failures as well as through our diligent study of God and His ways.

Jesus used the analogy of vine dressing here (recorded beautifully by John in chapter 15 of his gospel) and the concepts are very similar. A vine dresser has to cut away branches for the sake of the plant’s future growth and fruit production. A diamond cutter analyzes which parts of the diamond are going to be the most effective at producing sparkle and reflecting light. Sometimes for the sake of a uniform, balanced cut, large sections of the rough diamond have to be cut away. But the result, even if it is smaller, is a diamond that is more beautiful. It is cut so that it can shine.

Settling for a life without discipline and accountability is like choosing to stay in a rough, uncut form. It may look interesting, but it is far from being gorgeous. We speak romantically of finding a diamond in the rough, but we don’t really want them to stay that way. We want our diamonds refined and smoothed. We want the work to be finished, which is what Jesus promises to do in us – finish the work that He started. That may require a cutting process that is less than enjoyable, but the end result is a life of beauty and grace.