Things Treasured and Pondered

The last two years of my life have been a blur. Every moment feels spoken for. I often feel pulled in four literal directions as the wants and needs of my four young children are layered on top of each other. Our house is rarely quiet. Discretionary “me” time is at an all time low. I could give you a list of fifty reasons why it feels impossible to treasure and ponder the things of God in this life season. I could give you a list of fifty excuses why Luke 2:19 just simply won’t work.

The problem, or maybe more accurately the encouragement, is the context of Luke 2:19. Mary’s reflection didn’t occur in a coffee shop, a beach getaway, or a mountain retreat. The person treasuring and pondering is a post-partum woman who had just given birth in less than ideal circumstances. Discard any idealized nativity images you have, it wasn’t a silent night.

The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was a grueling 90 miles, often uphill through the Judean desert during a rainy season of cold nights. The occupying regime that ruled by terror didn’t care what this journey meant for a young, expectant mother. Everyone must go to their hometown to register.

The hardship of traveling on foot well into the third trimester didn’t end when Mary entered Bethlehem’s city limits. Everyone from this family line was in town to be counted for the Roman census. The young couple whose pregnancy itself was wrapped in whispers and assumptions searched for a place to stay turning up empty again and again. Ultimately this search for shelter ends among the livestock. They wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a feeding trough because there was no guest room available.

Far from home, Mary and Joseph became parents in circumstances most of us can’t imagine. I want Luke’s Gospel to tell me that Mary’s first set of visitors was a midwife and lactation consultant who brought her herbal tea, helped her figure out breastfeeding, and cared for her postpartum body’s needs. I want it to tell me her first visitor was her mother who took newborn Jesus for an hour or two so she could get some rest. That’s not what Luke describes, though.

In come the shepherds, those looked down upon by the world. They came to worship the newborn King spoken of by the angels. They found a haggard and unkempt set of new parents. They found Jesus still in a feeding trough.

Mary’s circumstances hadn’t changed. She didn’t have to wait for things to slow down, for things to get easier for her to ponder and treasure what had happened that first Christmas. She didn’t wait for the newborn fog to lift in order to love God and worship him with both her mind and her heart.

Luke 2:19 is an encouragement to all of us who are weary and heavy laden this Christmas season. Like Mary, you and I don’t have to wait for our circumstances to improve. God doesn’t just meet us in a cozy, quiet house or in an illusive hour of uninterrupted “me” time. He meets us wherever we are.

A likely illiterate, scandalized, teenaged mother living under the occupation of an oppressive foreign regime gives you and I permission to ponder and treasure all that God is for us in Christ this Christmas season no matter how messy, loud, or undesirable our backdrop. Let Luke 2:19 be an encouragement to come and adore the God of the universe who isn’t put off by weariness, weakness, or feeding troughs.

What keeps you from pondering and treasuring the things of God this Christmas season? How can Mary’s response in less than ideal circumstances encourage you in the midst of your own?

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