Monday, December 14, 2009

Treasuring and Pondering...

I love Christmastime, don't you?! There is a warmth and glow around ALL things that isn't there the rest of the year. I truly believe that if we could bottle up whatever it is at Christmastime that makes people sparkle that we could achieve world peace... we gotta work on it! I look forward to so many things about this time of year... time with friends and family, the yummy food, the music, the decorations, the commercials, giving and receiving... so much to look forward to, BUT the thing I look forward to most during the month of December is dedicating my time with the Lord to the study of the "Christmas Story." I love reading each and every tidbit we have to learn about the Jesus' birth and then connecting the dots between the authors and storytellers, trying to imagine a fuller, more complete picture. Last year I focused a lot of my study on Mary and Elizabeth and their pregnancies. I read countless commentary from scholars about their relationship and how critical Elizabeth was to Mary's faith. For obvious reasons I was intrigued by their journey as pregnant women and the weight (both literally and figuratively) their particular bellies carried for the fate of our world.

This year, being a mom I was particularly struck by a verse I have read hundreds, if not more, times. It's a verse that I never really paid that much attention to. The words never really seemed to add anything to the story itself... just a bit of commentary by my friend Luke. This year these words were different. They struck me in a deep and meaningful way. I had an instantaneous addiction to these words... I wanted to find out everything I could about these words, this verse, its' significance, because I knew better... these words were not mindless commentary, they were a piece of the road map, a piece of a very important truth I needed to uncover for myself.

The verse comes out of Luke's second chapter: "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Okay so here's the intrigue... the verse begins with "but." And "but" always signals that there is something GOOD coming... it says, "hello, wake up, there is about to be something meaty here...don't miss it!" BUT... (are you ready... I am using BUT so something good is coming) we have to read before the BUT to understand the power of what is going to come after.

So before the BUT in verse 19, Luke recounts the shepherds reaction to the Christ. He tells us that they were amazed at the things they had witnessed, from the angels proclaiming the birth of Christ to seeing Christ in the flesh, and they went out to spread the good news. They were amazed, astonished, possibly even shocked... BUT Mary (not shocked, not astonished, not necessarily amazed) treasured up all these things (the TRUTH of who her Son is) and she pondered them in her heart. From the time Gabriel visited Mary she knew that she had received a rich, rich blessing. She understood the significance of her blessing and acknowledged God's infinite wisdom and power in "setting up" the salvation of the world. So when the shepherds came and told her these WONDERFUL things about her son, she was not surprised in the least. She knew all these things about her son, she knew that God had come to be WITH man and she treasured those truths just as you and I do.

We treasure the fact that God came to be WITH us, in the flesh. He came so that we might live! Okay, there is just SO much to say about this ONE sentence... hang in there with me... I don't want to lose this because I am so challenged by it!

As a mother, I understand what Luke says by Mary treasuring up all these things. She knew the good and great things that God had done for her and for her family. She treasured the fact that her Son was going to grow into a man that would literally change the face of eternity, forever. Her son would be the one to finish the battle, he would be the game changer in the war against Satan. BUT (there it is again) he would also be the child that would bring her the same joy that I experience when I spend time with Caden. When I watched him smile his first smile, when I heard him babble his first word, when I saw him take his first step. As a mother we cherish those moments and we treasure them. We treasure those sweet blessings and when someone tells us of the GREAT joy of motherhood we aren't amazed or astonished to find that it is true... NO, we know, we get it... for we've treasured our blessing since the time of conception, just as Mary we gave thanks to the Lord above for being favored, for being blessed with a child!

But the fun doesn't stop there... you see Mary not only treasured up all of these things but then she PONDERED them in her heart. Pondered is not just thinking about things, it's considering, it's questioning, it's wondering...

These things that Mary treasured were BIG...HUGE! Her Son was Christ. Woah... the significance there is just too massive to grasp, but not so big as for her not to at least have one million different things to ponder. Think about the things she was about to experience... I mean her Son was wanted DEAD from the beginning of his time on earth. Someone would always have it out for him. She was forced to flee her home and relocate in order to protect her child. She knew that the great and glorious things of Christ came with a very earthly price for his mother and for her son. And she pondered these things... what would it mean for his childhood? Would he be normal, adjusted? How would she parent Christ? If she didn't protect him, would God's plan be left unfulfilled? Did the fate of the world, lie on her shoulders? Couldn't he just be a "normal" kid?

So many things she had to ponder... all of her treasures left her pondering the future...

Poor Mary, right?! Not just poor Mary... poor us! Poor mothers everywhere! Don't we do the same? I know I am the queen of the "if, then" statement. If this happens, then what will that mean for... we have SO much to ponder about our own lives, about the lives of our children. What if... What then?

I know you might think that I'm headed down the "Debbie Downer" side of the story, but stay with me... we have SO much to rejoice about when we dig into these words...We have the wonderful ability to read about a mother, just a plain, young, simple, mother, who yes, is the mother of Christ, but is still just a mother. She is a mother who takes joy in the sweet and simple things of her child and in the big and significant blessings that her child brought into this world. Each of our children brings something special and significant into this world. Each of them has a purpose and a plan... a BIG one... it's God's plan! And Mary is also a mother who ponders, who is concerned for her child, who understands the evil and the prejudice that her child will have to endure. She is a mother, and a mother and a mother... just like any mother you have ever come across... Mary is exactly like me! I am exactly like Mary! You are Mary, Mary is you!

So what's a mother to do? Just sit back and treasure what comes and ponder what is next? Hang out in the manager!?! Of course not... be active, be involved, be attuned to the Lord's mighty hand and TRUST beyond anything else that He is with us. God came to be WITH us and he IS with us. We have a story like Mary's to encourage us. A real mom who was put into seemingly unreal circumstances, who leaned solely on her faith to fulfill the destiny God had written for her and for her child. She went where he sent her and she did what he asked. I don't think that she understood a good majority of it and how could she?! BUT she soldiered on. She relied on her husband and took his leadership of their home and trusted in his good standing with the Lord as well. She followed her Son throughout his ministry, she supported him and loved him until the very end. She did whatever she had to do to help him reach his destiny, as ill-fated as it may have seemed at the time...she did it!

I am so encouraged by Mary, by Luke's words, by God's infinite wisdom in crafting his beautiful love story of mother and child, of father and son and of love ultimately conquering ALL. I know I will often not understand where we are headed as a family and at times I am sure my purpose will seem insignificant but I will remember Mary and how her insignificance and her ability to remove the "me" from her daily life turned into the MOST significant event in all of time! Her ability to deny herself and follow her Lord, who also happened to be her son is something I want for my life. I want to strive hard after what is good like Mary. I want to treasure each and every blessing and ponder them in my heart. I want to pray and seek the Lord throughout my pondering and follow where he leads. I want to shepherd Caden to be a man as close to the man Mary raised as he can be!

Don't you love this time of year? Treasure up all these things! Ponder them!

God came to be with us!! Treasure it! Ponder it!

(Okay, I'm done... I haven't done a "Katie-post" in a while... thanks for obliging! I hope to be back with more Caden-rific news and pics sometime soon! Thanks for letting me share such an exciting truth with you!)


KK said...

Wonderful post! I am so proud to be your mother!

Melissa said...

What a great post!! I really enjoyed reading that perspective bc so often Mary is overlooked. Thank you so much for sharing!!

ginarowe said...

So true... loved reading your insight! Very touching.