Friday, January 11, 2013

in the middle of treasure... and treasuring.


"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
Luke 2:19
 
It's nearing mid-January.  For most of us, the decorations have been disassembled and packed away.  Kids have returned to schedules and school, parents return to work.  If the holidays are a moment to pause and reflect, the New Year has certainly become a time that most of us busy ourselves with pressing on, without looking back.  

I presently work for a behavioral health care company that managed mental health benefits for client companies, everything from counseling to psychiatric to substance abuse.  I can attest to the fact that January from March is our busiest season.  Why?  Because of the post-Christmas let down.  For many, the return to the reality of their own lives is overwhelming, too much of a burden to bear alone.

That is true for any of us, regardless of how big or small our burdens may be, they are too heavy to bear alone.  We often forget it was that very baby in a manger, whom we just celebrated a few weeks ago, that said, "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke (get in the harness with Jesus) upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
Today, whatever burden you're carrying, Jesus wants to trade you for it.  And His burden is light. The Psalmist knew this when he wrote: "Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall" (Psalm 55:22).
In this season of the year, as some are struggling and some are pressing on firmly, I think we can all find encouragement when we pause and reflect on the magnitude of what we have just celebrated.  The God of the universe coming, in the flesh, to earth in order to create a way for us to know and connect with Him intimately.  It's mind boggling, really.  When you pause and reflect after the chaos of the season has passed.  
In scripture, we find that Mary did just this.  Mary's experience in the year leading up to the birth of Jesus were both mesmerizing and unfathomable.  She'd been visited by angels, informed that she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit of God, faced potential rejection and ridicule, and then - at nine months gestation - had ridden on the back of a camel for seventy miles.  Now, I don't know about ya'll, but I can vividly remember being nine months pregnant and it was uncomfortable to ride seven miles in a car.  My weighing 240 at the time probably exacerbated my discomfort, but that's a blog for another day.  That said, the thought of being on the back of a camel for a journey that most scholars believe took approximately four days in and of itself is more than most of us can bear to think about.  
 
Through it all, from the apparitions of angels to the grueling conditions of a manger, Mary remains steadfast.  After the birth of Jesus, while they were still in the manger, I can imagine Mary's enthrallment with her precious child.  Her human heart consumed with the innate love that we have for our children combined with the unfathomable reality that He was also the Son of God.  It was the culmination of an extraordinary journey for Mary, and yet, the beginnings of salvation for humankind.  

Often, I've wondered how Mary endured what was to come in the days and years that followed.  We hear little else about Jesus' childhood.  I've often wondered what she thought and felt during those years, if any seeds of doubt or discouragement about who Jesus was crept in.  But in reading the Christmas Story again this past Christmas, just when you think you can't get anything fresh out of a story that's been read again and again, just one verse struck my heart: 

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
Luke 2:19
Barnes Commentary sums this up better than I can:  
"Mary kept all these things - All that happened, and all that was said respecting her child. She "remembered" what the angel had said to "her;" what had happened to Elizabeth and to the shepherds - all the extraordinary circumstances which had attended. the birth of her son. Here is a delicate and beautiful expression of the feelings of a mother. A "mother" forgets none of those things which occur respecting her children. Everything they do or suffer - everything that is said of them, is treasured up in her mind; and often she thinks of those things, and anxiously seeks what they may indicate respecting the future character and welfare of her child.   Pondered - Weighed. This is the original meaning of the word "weighed." She kept them; she revolved them; she "weighed" them in her mind, giving to each circumstance its just importance, and anxiously seeking what it might indicate respecting her child."
And this January, and every other month of the year, we can take heart and ponder the wonder of our Savior's birth.  I believe that Mary pondered and weighed this in her heart not just in that moment, but daily - from His birth to His death to His Resurrection and after.

She remembered and meditated on what the Lord had spoken and what He had promised.  This January, let us do the same.

Treasure Him in your heart today.



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