**No post tomorrow. We’ll get back to our regular schedule on Thursday. Happy New Year!
“But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
How busy are you? Okay, how busy are you, really? If your family or simply your life is at all like mine, you have a tendency to schedule yourself to the point that you simply run from thing to thing to thing and never stop to breathe, much less think about any of them. While that’s an easy pattern to fall into, it isn’t one that will lead to flourishing in the long term. As we sit here in the limbo that is the days between Christmas and the New Year, let’s see if we can’t take a page out of Mary’s playbook and take it all in for a minute.
What has God been doing in your life lately? For my family, the last several days have been a chance for us to slow down a bit and enjoy some time together that doesn’t involve running around from one activity to the next just trying to keep up with ourselves. It’s been really nice, I’ve got to be honest.
When Jesus was preparing the disciples for His imminent departure by way of the cross, one of the things He dropped in their laps was the reminder that they needed to stick with Him if they wanted to successfully continue in the life in which He had invited them to participate. Specifically, He told them that if they wanted to do anything meaningful for the kingdom of God, they needed to abide in Him.
That’s a bit of an abstract concept, but at its heart, it means that we need to stick close to Jesus and make certain we are drawing our strength, direction, and determination on which way to go next from Him and only Him at all times. Abiding in Jesus (a discipline I am personally growing in, though unevenly at times) means pausing to actually listen to His voice through the Holy Spirit and on a regular occasion.
This kind of a slowed-down, intentional way of life is in many ways the antithesis to how most of us live most of the time. When we are running from activity to activity—even and especially when those activities are connected to a commitment to our local church and thus ostensibly done for Jesus—we are not able to abide in Him if for no other reason than you can’t abide on the run. It’s not possible.
The end result is a gnawing emptiness that longs to be filled that’s paired with a growing internal confusion as to why we are not satisfied in our Lord when we are doing so many things for Him all the time. Are you with me? The answer to both of these tensions is to do just what Mary did here.
If you think your life is busy and stressful, you understand a bit of what Mary had been through over the past few months leading up to this verse. Her life was turned upside down by the angel’s announcement. The social and cultural fallout made things even worse. Her relationship with Joseph had barely survived. Now she was far from home, living in a cave for the time being, and had just delivered her first child with no mother nearby. And to top things off, a group of rough shepherds had just burst into her little sanctuary talking over each other about angels and heavenly songs and her baby being the Messiah. I think we can safely imagine that her head was spinning.
Moving on to the next thing would have been easy. It would have felt better. It would have been normal. But Mary was anything but normal. Rather than simply reacting, she paused and she pondered. She no doubt had some thoughts, but rather than ignoring them and running to the next thing, she gave herself time to think them. She let the memories get registered, and she paid attention to where she put them. She stored them up in her heart, Luke said. This would surely prove to be a blessing about thirty years later when she would need the reminder about who exactly her Son was as He hung on a cross dying.
The other thing she did was give us a pattern worth following. When something happens in our lives—particularly something significant or troubling—we need to get in the discipline of taking time to think about it. We need to reflect on what it was and why it happened. We need to process through how we reacted and why we reacted that way. We need to run it through the filter of Scriptures and see how it measured up to that. We need to set the whole thing before God and listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say about it.
Hear me well: This is not an easy discipline to put in place. It deviates from our natural inclinations rather sharply. And, it can lead us into some scary territory if we let it take us very deep into our own hearts. Sometimes finding out what’s really going on inside of us isn’t very comfortable. But if we will persevere, we will find ourselves growing more whole as people. When we do it with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will grow more holy as people. We will understand ourselves better and gradually we will begin reacting to life more intentionally in ways that lead to a flourishing of life both for us and for the people around us.
Doesn’t that sound better than merely running from one thing to the next without ever stopping to catch our breath? Perhaps this can be your New Year’s resolution. Give it a try and see what happens. You’ll be glad you did.