Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Gift of Pondering

Read Luke2:15-20

"But Mary kept all these things and 
pondered them in her heart."  Luke 2:19

Have you ever experienced something and been so deeply impacted by it that you pondered that experience for days after? I bet that's how Mary felt after all of the traffic in and out of her little family's lives after Jesus was born. He might have been God-incarnate and the Savior of the world, but to this teenage mother, he was still her baby. Let's not lose sight of that for a moment.

The birth of Jesus, our King, changed the course of the world. No doubt! But for one seemingly unseen young woman, he changed her life, and that took some mulling over.

I know friends who've suffered grave tragedies this year - the passing of children and parents, loss of income, extended hospital stays, life-changing diagnosis... I've seen it all happen to people I love. 

In my lifetime, I've walked through my own tragedies. We all have. You can't help but ponder life when you're living it and it's not going as you'd prefer. But tragedy is not the only cause for reflection.

A friend once told me about a Christmas at her in-laws' home. On Christmas morning all the grandkids/cousins were playing together and having fun, when she just happened to look over to her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law was sitting in the midst of it all she had tears in her eyes. This woman was so blessed by the scene unfolding in front of her, surrounded by her children and their kids, that her eyes could no longer restrict the emotion welling up in her heart. My guess is, her mother-in-law was in the midst of pondering that moment.

Years ago I was asked to do something that both caught me off guard and thrilled me to no end. As I drove home from that meeting, I was wondering what had just happened and these are the words that kept replaying in my mind. "I can't believe they chose me."

It was at that moment when the Lord interrupted my time of reflection and spoke these words to my spirit. 

"They didn't choose you. I did." 

I couldn't stop the tears. I imagine my sheer awe in the midst of that interaction with the Lord, was akin, somewhat, to what Mary must've felt.

How could this be? Why me? How did this happen? These are questions we ask in both moments of joy and sorrow, and both experiences lead us into seasons of reflection.

Maybe you're pondering a difficult season in your life. It may be fresh or perhaps it has occurred over time or within the past year. It could be your pondering just the opposite - a season of joy and overwhelming goodness in your life.

Friend walking through tragedy, this too shall pass. Your heart will not always hurt. Your pain, though raw and real right now, will eventually subside. You may still feel the ache of loss for years to come, but you will not always hurt like you do. It's okay to feel your feelings. Keep pressing into Jesus. Do not lament where you are, for he can use even this to strengthen you and make you into his image.

Dear one floating on cloud nine, embrace it to the fullest! You've had tough times, though they may seem distant. So you realize how quickly things can change from one season to the next. Enjoy the blessings and goodness surrounding you today, and never ever, ever, ever stop giving thanks.

My pastor always says...

"We live halfway between heaven and hell. We're going to experience a little bit of both."  ~Steve Meeks

How true are those words. What's also true is that pondering occurs in both. Reflection is meant to draw us closer to the Lord. It's a gift, even in pain. 

Lean into Jesus in the head in the cloud moments of life and also in the neck deep water seasons. He's in both. He is after all, Emmanuel - God with us. He is so near.

Jesus, may our pondering lead us back to you when we're hurting or rejoicing. Be near to my friends today whose hearts are broken. May they become increasingly aware of your presence this Christmas. And for my loves who are rejoicing over your goodness to them, let them feel your pleasure and delight as you rejoice with them.