Learning to Ponder

I can’t believe he is here. I’m still amazed this has even happened, and to me of all people. Maybe the fact that he is a boy, as the angel said, will help some people believe my story…

Well, Joseph was amazing. I’m sure he didn’t expect to be the one to deliver this baby. After all, that was nothing like carpentry work! Surely the Father guided him through. I didn’t fully know what to expect, but I’d helped Elizabeth a few months before and learned some things from my time with my dear cousin. And, of course, I trusted God. This is his son after all, so I knew he would be with me throughout the delivery, making sure everything went according to his plan. His plan. Can you imagine that God’s plan for his son entering the world included sheep, hay, and a manager? And then, this brilliant star…it’s as if God is making a heavenly announcement.  

Here I was, trying to rest after the most extreme physical exertion I’ve ever experienced, when visitors arrived at our meager stable. Shepherds. I couldn’t help but smile. God had chosen me, a poor girl with not much to offer, to be the mother of his son. So, it only seemed right that he also chose simple shepherds to be the audience of his birth announcement.

They came so eager to see the baby, to see the truth behind the words of the angel who spoke to them. I wonder if they were a bit startled and afraid at the sight, like I had been several months ago. I’m sure they were. They had to have been. But they believed the words and came to find the three of us right away, leaving their sheep behind. I don’t think they went right back to the fields. It sounded like they were headed to town–they wanted to tell everyone what has happened!

A part of my heart is bursting as well, wishing I could share my good news with the world. Or at least my mother. But for now, I will sit here with his sweet head lying in my arms as he sleeps.

I can’t help but wonder what is coming ahead of us. What will it be like to parent the son of God? Will I need to discipline him like other children? Will he be the best student in school? Will he need to memorize the Torah, or will he already know it? In fact, what is he already aware of right now? What traits of mine, as his mother, will he possess? 

How will he do it? How will he bring his kingdom? How will he choose to save us, God’s people? When will it happen? Will I live long enough to see the prophecies fulfilled through my child who sleeps before me right now?

Oh, I have so many questions, so many curiosities. Maybe I will share my thoughts with Joseph later. But for now I will keep them to myself. I will wait, patiently anticipating what will come next.  

We always hear that Mary pondered these things in her heart. But have you ever wondered what was really running through her mind, what exactly she was thinking in those extraordinary moments? It can be hard to fathom.

Surely God chose the right girl for the job! I doubt that my reaction to an angel telling me I was going to have a pre-marital, virgin pregnancy and that I was carrying God’s child would be one of somber contemplation. The more I think about it, the more I think if God had chosen me, I would have been more like Moses, trying to convince him I was the wrong girl for the task.

Sometimes in the life I am living in this foreign land, I can even be tempted to think God chose the wrong girl, or that the task he has assigned to me is more than I can manage. I’m not fully equipped to handle the stress and unknowns of my expat life. Yet, God has chosen me for the ministry in which I find myself in this season. I may feel a little like Mary, in that I didn’t always ask for or seek out the ministry and life opportunities I am a part of. Some things just kind of fall into my lap. At least, that is how it can seem from my finite perspective.

But I’d do better to react more like Mary. Less questioning and more thinking. Less asking why and how and even why not, and more quiet contemplation. Less longing for answers and more patience for revelation. Less complaining or even planning, and more pondering.

We don’t know many details about Mary, her personality, or how she managed motherhood to Jesus and her other children. But with the little we do know, I imagine she was a gentle and peaceful woman. I’m not sure anyone would use those terms to describe me…I do a lot of thinking, but it could be considered more on the verge of overthinking. However, that doesn’t seem at all like pondering. Pondering is thinking, for sure, but it has the connotation of peaceful contemplation, rather than anxious conjectures.

I want to learn from Mary and take time to reflect and ruminate over the experiences God has allowed me to pass through over this past year. I don’t want to simply react to or vent about what has been going on in, around, and through me this year. I want to take time to thoroughly digest it all. I want to imagine what He has in store for the year to come in a way that is full of calm and quiet anticipation rather than apprehension.

Maybe this year has involved many wonderful and miraculous events for you. Perhaps it was full of tragedy and heartache. Or maybe it was somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. As you look forward to next year, your mind may be swirling with heavy anxiety or joyous hope. Whatever is on your heart, will you join me in learning from Mary’s example, from her quiet pondering in the midst of what was taking place around her?

What do you imagine were the thoughts that Mary treasured up in her heart? How do you imagine her life as a mother to Jesus? Are you the kind of person who usually takes time to ponder the happenings around you? How has it been helpful to your life and ministry?

Photo by Ilker Simsekcan on Unsplash

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