Has God awakened some new idea about His character as you studied your lessons?
Have you immersed yourself in prayer to allow God’s Spirit to overcome a stronghold or to intercede for someone else?
As I’ve been reading, noticing how God’s people immerse themselves throughout scripture, one woman stands out. Let me give you some clues to see if you know who I’m talking about:
- Wore a blue shawl
- Rode a donkey
Yep, Mary the mother of Jesus; certainly she was “all in” for God’s kingdom.
Luke chapter 1 introduces her as a virgin, engaged to Joseph, living in town called Nazareth when an angel appears to her with this message,
“Hail favored one! The Lord is with you” vs. 28
But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. vs 29
But once the angel explains God’s favor and His choice of her as the mother of the Messiah, she responds,
“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” vs. 38
She’s “all in,” right?
And God was so pleased with her that her life became easier than that of all the other villagers. She was praised in the streets and given abundant wealth and riches beyond her wildest dreams! Right?
Well, not exactly …
Instead, her fiancé wanted to dump her but, luckily, changed his mind after an angel appeared to him in a dream, thus sparing her from being stoned. Still, no doubt there were plenty of whispers around their village about her pregnancy and maybe even accusations.She goes alone to visit her cousin Elizabeth and help her deliver John.
When she returns to Nazareth, she finds out a census is required and she travels (on a donkey in her blue shawl) to Bethlehem. And being great with child, she delivers Jesus, the Son of God, in a stable. Even in first-century terms, her situation was not ideal.
No sooner had she delivered her baby, then visitors arrive with their sheep … and a story!
Luke 2:9-16 tells the story of angels appearing in glory. Though the shepherds were terribly frightened, the good news of a great joy – the Savior coming as a baby – spurred them on. They simply must find this child and worship him!
Finally (we might think) something magnificent is coming out of this pregnancy. Maybe those angels were going to show up any minute to whisk the little family away to a lovely villa on the shore where they would live happily ever after.
But Mary didn’t seem to get caught up in the magnificence of their story. She didn’t take a selfie with the shepherds or Skype from the stable to the family back in Nazareth.
Maybe she was just too weary from the day’s events. Maybe she was in shock. Whatever the case, the Scriptures tell us,
“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
There’s a word that jumps out to me, used twice now in describing Mary’s response. Ponder.
Ponder means to think or consider, especially quietly, soberly and deeply.
It also means to chew over, reflect on, meditate.
In Hebrew culture, their process of thought often involved this act of pondering:
- Taking in current information and weighing it along with things that have happened.
- It’s a deep way of understanding and internalizing what’s going on.
From what I understand, much of our western culture has been influenced instead by the Greek thought process.
- It’s linear, more of a cause and effect.
- We seem to want to add up the facts and move on to a conclusion.
- It’s arithmetic.
- It’s keeping a ledger.
I wonder if that’s what makes me strive for instant gratification.This way of thinking seems to drive our culture in this information age. Something amazing happens, so we take a picture, text, tweet.
We try to capture the moment, but in capturing it, don’t we sometimes miss it?
We can look at it later, we say. Really, is that the same? I wonder what we lose by not pondering the moment–just soaking it in and reflecting.
My son caught an amazing, headfirst, diving catch in football last week … just as I was walking into the stands.
I missed it.
People told me all the details, and my son even showed me the replay on his iPod after the game. It was amazing to watch, but I didn’t really experience it.
I didn’t sit in the stands and reflect on how that boy has grown over the years. There was no flashback of all the times he played catch with a plastic football in the living room. Or the time he threw the Wii remote and broke the TV. I didn’t get the chance to recall the good and the bad that layer into his life of throwing and catching things.
I saw the clip and it was amazing, but I lost the opportunity to ponder.
What strikes me about Mary was her practice of treasuring and pondering the activities of earth that collide with the activities of God.
I want to be more like that … to ponder what God might be doing when I experience loss or abundance, when I feel pain or joy.
I want to reflect on what God has done in the past and lay that on top of what He’s showing me right now.
I want to go deeper in understanding His WAY with me.
What about you? What might you treasure and ponder in your life this week?