“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:20 stood out to me tonight as I was reading about the birth of Jesus. I’ve read this same verse more times than I can begin to count in my life. Consider how many times we’ve all heard it as well. It is the story of the birth of Jesus. He was born of a virgin named Mary. He lay in a manger wrapped in cloths because there was no room at the inn. I hope you know the story, if not, I encourage you to read Luke 1-2, so that you have a reference for the history about which I write.
Each year as I prepare my heart for Advent, I focus on the coming of Jesus. That’s what Christmas is all about! You know the excitement we have for the shepherds keeping watch over the flock, the wise men, camels, drummer boy, and the angel! Oh, and who can forget the star that leads this multitude of visitors to greet the newborn King? Angels and stars! Woohoo! All of that makes Christmas exciting for me! It’s the reality of miracle after miracle that occurred to bring Jesus to this very earth that overwhelms me time and time again. Yet tonight something other than the actual birth of Jesus was called to my attention. Luke 2:20 captured my heart with Mary. She is a young woman who has just given birth to a miracle…through a miracle, and she is so incredibly overwhelmed that she has to put the things that have happened into her heart to ponder them.
Mary suddenly seems more real to me tonight than ever before. How many times in my life have I become overwhelmed by the events occurring in life? How many times have you? I can think of those days when I become so blown away by life, that I need time in a quiet place…all by myself, so that I can digest what has happened. Mary appears to have the same need for processing time. Time to ponder, and think it all through. Mary’s very human need, that I have for whatever reason overlooked for so long, suddenly makes Mary very real to me. She’s no longer just a historical woman, but she is real.
Sweet, young and innocent is Mary. Chosen by God to be the mother of his Son. Chosen to be the mother of the holy child, who is born to save the world…who is born to die for this world. Wow. I can’t begin to wrap my little brain around that one. Mary was chosen to give life to the Giver of Life. She gave birth to that sweet little baby boy, and she named him Immanuel, just as she was told to do. She wrapped him in the only cloths she could find, and she held him close. Mary heard the infant cries of Jesus. She fed his sweet little body, she rocked him, and she changed him when he was dirty. Mary bathed Jesus, and watched him learn to talk. She watched him learn to walk…only to years later watch him walk to his brutal death on that tree. She gave life to Jesus, and then she watched him die for you and for me.
How much did she know the day she gave birth to him? Did Mary comprehend Jesus would be the Savior of the world? Did she know with full understanding that he would be fully God. Did she know that He would raise the dead. Did she know that he would save the world? It was on the night that Jesus was born, Mary gathered all that had happened, and pondered it in her heart. She had just given birth to the son of God. An angel went to the shepherds while they were in their fields, and announced that the Messiah had been born. They followed a star to the very place where Jesus was born, they celebrated him, and they told Mary of their joy. They told Mary all that the angel had told them. That angel had once spoken to her as well…the day God chose her to carry his son…to give birth to, and be a mother to his son.
I now admire Mary as a woman. I admire her as a faithful daughter of God. I can’t begin to understand the kind of faith that she demonstrated in her life. I want to live with that kind of faith! As I prepare my heart to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the coming weeks, I feel like my level of intimacy with God has just increased ten fold. I feel closer to him, as he brings me closer to realizing that Mary was a common woman…like you and like me. She was a wife, a mother, and a daughter. She, like you and like me, had a family to care for. She had a home to keep, and bills to pay. She was real, and she was special. What made her special is that she was a chosen woman….chosen by God.
You know what makes you and me special? We too are women chosen by God for a very special purpose while on this earth. He has a plan for our lives too. It’s that reality my dear sister makes me want to gather all that God has told me, and ponder it in my heart…just like Mary.