This time of year there’s a lot to be excited about. Especially if you’re a working mom like me, it’s easy to fill up your time with holiday preparations, decorations, family traditions, office parties, church events, and shopping trips.
We’re all running on instinct at this point (well, instinct and maybe coffee), just trying to get everything done according to plan. What happens when those plans get disrupted? Chaos. Frustration. Eating too much key lime pie for consolation. And that’s just interference with some little holiday plans, not the bigger expectations that we have for our lives, like where our careers are going, or whether other people like and respect us.
As I read through the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:1-20, I’m struck the most by the character of Mary and how, over and over again, she trusted God, even though it must have gone against her own instincts and plans. Like me, Mary had lots of things on her mind. Unlike me, she wasn’t worried about decorations, gifts, or parties. She spent her “holiday season” pregnant, on the back of a donkey traveling seventy miles through the Israeli desert. It required such grit to travel that distance simply to fulfill a tax obligation! Over those last few miles she and Joseph must have longed for the relative comfort of the Inn, only to find that all they had available was a stable (likely little more than a hollowed-out cave).
Anyone who knows or has witnessed the trials of becoming a new mom understands how difficult this would be. As if that weren’t enough, strange men, from shepherds to kings, kept showing up to marvel at her new baby!
Verse 18 tells us that after the Shepherds saw Jesus, they shared their incredible story about Jesus and the angels, and all who heard it were “amazed.” In verse 19, we see that Mary, in contrast, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” What a testament to Mary’s straightforward trust in God’s sovereignty.
While others who heard the story were amazed and excited, Mary turned deeply contemplative. Whatever Mary’s original plan for her life had been, it almost certainly didn’t involve all this. And yet Mary treasures and ponders each new burden and miracle alike, subjecting all of her instincts, desires, and expectations to God’s will.
That is my goal for this Christmas season – to take time to appreciate the journey God has sent me on and to treasure and ponder the gifts He has given me. I think I’m only beginning to understand just how valuable a gift it truly is.
God’s greatest blessing to humanity involved great personal burdens for Mary, how has God worked through trials in your life?