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Stop & Ponder

christmas

Do you have time to sit with me a minute? Grab your Bible and your favorite cup of something warm. I want to tell you about someone special. She is like no woman I have ever met. She was so young when she first became a mother and a wife. When an angel came to bring her the news, she must have been confused, scared, but she displayed such great faith. Her song of praise is recorded in the scriptures for us (see Luke 1). As the baby grew in her womb, I imagine she fell in love with each bump, wiggle and kick. The Bible doesn’t tell us, but if she’s like most mamas, she must have dreamed for Him. What would life be like? Surely, she didn’t imagine her precious son being born in a stinky stable with a trough for a bed. What wonder it was when shepherds were the first to meet her family of three! Could she have imagined what pain He would face? Did she understand when Simeon told her that “a sword would pierce through her own soul also” (see Luke 2:35)? She would go on to become a faithful wife and a mother to more sons. Yet, in all these things, nothing would impact Mary’s life more than her time spent with Jesus.

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19

          Though I don’t know that I would’ve wanted to be Mary, there is still a lot I could learn from her. When the shepherds came to worship her screaming newborn, Mary “treasured” and she “pondered.” She wasn’t rushing to the next moment. She wasn’t shooing them out the barn doors. The notations in my study Bible take me to another story in scripture when a father stopped and pondered. After Joseph had shared yet another of his “crazy” dreams with his family, Genesis 37:11 tells us that “his father kept the saying in mind” (emphasis mine). Jacob must have been curious as to what Joseph’s dreams meant. Jacob himself had visions/dreams from the Lord. Was God trying to tell his young son something? Certainly, this moment wasn’t to be disregarded. So he “kept” it all. This word carries with it the same idea of storing or treasuring. The same thing Mary did that night hundreds of years later.

It is the same thing David did and encouraged us to do with God’s word. “I have stored up your word in my heart” (Psalm 119:11, emphasis mine).

When the truth doesn’t make sense. Stop and ponder. When you stand amazed at the God of the impossible. Stop and ponder. When you read His word. Stop and ponder. When you celebrate this season. Stop and ponder.

Several of my friends have long since developed this fine art. As Christmas draws near, their hearts go pitter-patter. They crave the wonder, beauty and joy of it all. It has been an acquired passion for me. For years, I have let financial burdens, family brokenness, stress and the curse of perfectionism rob me of the treasure of Christmas. This year, O Lord, let this year be different.

“They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they make take hold of that which is truly life.”

1 Timothy 6:18-19 (emphasis mine)

          Many of us are familiar with the passage in the New Testament that warns us away from the love of money. Some of us need to be reminded of that very admonition as we head into a season of heavy cultural commercialism. Yet, how many of us finish reading past the warning? Paul encourages us to store up treasure and hold on to that which is truly life. Truly life. If you are a Christian, then you know the reason we celebrate this time of year is because Jesus, God in the flesh, came to this world over two thousand years ago to save the world. But you may also need to be reminded of all the little treasures that God has in store for you this Christmas season. Don’t let these moments pass you by. Stop and ponder. Be amazed.

So . . . this year, I broke tradition and put up the tree early. I reveled in listening to my kids squeal with delight. This year, I will sit and talk a little longer. I will let go of perfection. I will welcome friends into my messy and less-than-ideally decorated home. This year, when the Christmas story is read, I will linger a little longer over the wondrous miracle that occurred that night! I will stop and ponder what it means for my life today. I will be still when I want to run. And in the midst of the crazy shopping hours and the long list of activities, I will smile, laugh and enjoy the moment. (And if you happen to catch me falling back into my tendency of stressing and perfecting, would you remind me? Sing a Christmas tune. Share a verse. Tell me to stop—but do it nicely, treasure and ponder.)

How will you linger this season? What is it about the Christmas story that fills you with wonder? What can you cling to and store up that is truly life? I’d love to hear from you! Spread the joy!

*To read more of Mary’s story, linger over the words found in Luke 1-2.

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