And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2: 8-19 NIV
Softly, I inquired of the Lord to place some ‘Advent treasure’ in my hand to share and hold with you. Three separate whispers, seemingly unconnected, dropped into my thoughts like ribbons curling down from Christmas bells…
Mary treasured and pondered these things in her heart.
Mary had been dreaming of her new life with Joseph, perhaps imagining the days of her life out, like pearls on a string…
Her upcoming wedding day.
The cozy home she would make with her new husband, safe among family and friends.
The sons and daughters they would have someday.
She did not imagine that daydream string to break and send those pearls flying askew. Some to roll off completely, irretrievably away. Was it difficult to give up her dream for His? Did being so-chosen ever feel, even for a fearful moment, too daunting a task for one so young and forever solitary in this experience?
In that room diffused with warmth and light of the Holy Spirit, God surely enfolded Mary in His unsurpassable peace with the angel’s enjoinder, Do not be afraid… His presence so deep and love-encompassing that her heart melted with her love for Him too, and with assurance that He would carry her through to even greater blessing than she’d ever thought.
But in the days and months to follow, life was real and earnest and maybe felt a long way off from that beautiful, tender moment in God’s presence. Could she ever have envisioned the deep, hungering loneliness, the over-sweeping ostracizing of saying ‘yes’ to the Father’s design? Being human, she must have wondered at times (as we do in our own God-called circumstances) – If God was in this plan, why was it so hard?
Maybe she pleaded for a kindred spirit to confide her heart. And God, again warming her hands and heart in His, led her to Elizabeth… at… just… the… right… moment. So infusing was His light and tenderness and grace upon them in their meeting, He moved upon Elizabeth’s unborn babe to leap in greeting of Mary’s own! And in that leap, gave them both a wondrous sign of Emmanuel… God with them.
Still… beautiful as those moments of closeness were… they were respites only in ongoing struggles to make a home.
Perhaps, it was just when she and Joseph had prepared their new baby’s room, set out a lovingly hand-carved cradle, made plans to settle in for his arrival, that the warning came for them to flee with nothing but a donkey to carry her.
Did she put on a happy face for Joseph, yet trudge on, weary in heart and body and spirit at all these losses?
Did she feel like she couldn’t take one more disappointment when everyone turned them away and the only place left for God’s royal son to be born was a dank and lonely stable? With no loved ones there to even rejoice with them?
When the shepherds arrived and told her their story – excitedly tumbling words over words in their effort to portray just how God had sent angels to sing over them, given them such explicit directions (Go to the city of David, you will find the babe in a manger…) – what wonder must have filled Mary in that telling!
Wonder at her God who sent angels to let these shepherds know they were not lowly in His sight, but chosen for royal assignment. (As are you and I!)
Joy in her Father who went to such lengths as to lead them on to celebrate the birth of His son with her and Joseph in this once unmemorable, now remarkable place.
Suddenly, all the pieces of these last months were coming together like fresh pearls strung on a far more precious string than she’d ever dreamed…
How God had sent an angel to let Joseph know the truth, when no one else would believe her.
How He had prepared and planned the delight of visiting Elizabeth.
How He must have prepared and led to this time and place for Royal birth.
And now this celebration in the Heavens.
God was surely with them. And Mary knew she would treasure and ponder these things… forever… in her heart…
Maybe you’ve been feeling alone, sad, daunted or overwhelmed, sorrowful and solitary in your own circumstances, as I have. Wondering, If God is in this – why is this calling so hard?
Let us ponder and treasure the ways God has shown us He is with us, tuck the following as keepsake hope into our Advent box today:
- Write down a specific time when you just know that God was reaching personally into your life, thinking of you, calling you His treasure (as He did to the shepherds, who until that starry night must have felt more than insignificant).
- Think about the warmth you know in the presence of God when you are worshiping or spending time alone with Him, and write down the way it makes you feel, what He is saying to you even now as you think of Him…
- Make note of a time when God has opened up a meeting between you and someone else that could only have been a Divine appointment. Record, ponder and thank Him for these! Ask Him to make you a Divine appointment for someone else this season!
- What Elizabeths has he sent into your life at just the moment you needed? If possible, send a note to one or more to thank them for what they have meant in your life. Or write a note of thanks to tuck in for your eyes only (and His), as remembrance. Is there someone you know who needs you as their Elizabeth?
- Have you had to surrender a dream – or are you in the midst of doing so? What hope is the Holy Spirit speaking into your heart through your “yes” to Him?
NOTE: If you have a post relating to this theme of “Advent Treasure,” please feel free to put your link in my comments! 🙂
Read the introduction post to this Advent Treasure Box series here: Starting an Advent Box of Christmas Treasures
© Pam Depoyan
sharing with: raysofgraceandjoy.blogspot.com
This is not a wholly, “what I learned in November” post, but since I have been mulling it over these last November days, I am also linking this to Emily at http://www.chattingatthesky.com/