Christmas Stories: Day 25
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I have a Life Application Bible, one with notes, commentaries and cross-reference sections at the bottom. A necessary, required tool for my often fuzzy brain. Most days, the notes do their job nicely. But there’s the occasional verse that isn’t addressed, no cheat notes at all. Which makes my head spin, because I want to write to the editors and be all, “DID YOU MEAN TO LEAVE THIS ONE OUT?!?” (FYI – I haven’t done that yet. YET.)
One of those verses (in my Bible anyway) is Luke 2:19. I’ve included some different versions here for reference, partly to show how gorgeous the verse is, partly to show how handy BibleGateway.com is:
* NIV: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
* NLT: But Mary hid all these words in her heart. She thought about them much.
* The Voice: Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart.
* The Message: Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself.
* Amplified Version: But Mary was keeping within herself all these things (sayings), weighing and pondering them in her heart.
To offer a little background: before this verse, she’s had the baby (Jesus, y’all), is recouping in the hay, and the shepherds are recounting to her and Joseph what the angel told them while they were in the field. You know the part…”the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified” – always a clear sign that real stuff is about to go down.
As a reminder, in this field setting, the angel brought good news of great joy, that the Savior – the Messiah and Lord – had been born in the City of David, that they’d find him wrapped up like a baby burrito. And then the “multitude of the heavenly host” (or armies, or company, or heavenly knighthood – all great descriptions, yes?) appeared, singing and praising – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will toward men.”
But back to my Bible, with the missing notes on this verse.
When I first read it, I thought the notes would be so full, they’d surely offer more on how Mary felt about these words, these things she was treasuring and hiding and storing and pondering. Nope. I was indignant – someone had done Mary a grave disservice, not explaining what all of this meant to her. Did no one want to examine this? Was it not as important as I thought it was?
As the verse rested on my own heart for a while, and started to sink in, I came to understand that this wasn’t Mary’s version of a scrapbook or diary. It wasn’t a baby book or keepsake box that she was holding on to, something to commemorate the event itself. It wasn’t simply recording the words of the angel passed along by the shepherds, or the sky concert they might have tried in vain to describe.
I imagine it was the weight and beauty of every single thing that had transpired for this young mother up to that point. From Gabriel visiting her – saying the Holy Spirit would “overcome her”, that she’d conceive and give birth to the “Son of the Most High”, that he would reign over Israel forever – to her actually getting pregnant. From the barren Elizabeth getting pregnant (never mind poor, muted Zechariah) to the birth of Jesus and the circumstances surrounding the event.
When I think of young, brand new mother Mary, holding this all tightly to herself, my heart breaks. I picture her holding little wrapped-up Jesus, trying not to lose it as the shepherds are talking, tears at the ready on her eyelashes. All of the emotions, the physical pain, the overwhelmed state that comes with a brand new baby – I can’t imagine she was immune to all that. I watch, her mind flashing back to the words of Gabriel, to her visit with Elizabeth. She’s filing every detail all away, and with all that her young self has, would so love to hold on to that baby, never let him go. Not only is this all so new, but the gravity of “savior” rests on her son. Even if she can’t grasp it all, it’s there.
This verse catches me EVERY. SINGLE. ADVENT. SEASON. Almost as soon as I envision the young, pondering Mary, I end up at Jesus’ death, wondering if all that she’d hidden in her heart came back to her, fresh and raw. If, when she saw her son dying a criminal’s death on a cross, her memories of Gabriel’s words and the songs of the heavenly host broke free of their vault and cried out on their own. And that’s when, as a mother, it’s too much. As a child of His, it’s too much.
It would have been so easy to bolt at “the Holy Spirit will overcome you”.
But she didn’t. She submitted. She stored, treasured, meditated, pondered. Held the memories dear, kept them deep within herself.
How easy it is for us, for me, to forget. What we’ve been promised. If only I could hold on, treasure, ponder, hide, meditate – not just on a verse that doesn’t have CliffNotes. But on all that I know to be true, that’s been given freely. On those things that seem like too much.
Maybe the notes wouldn’t have been all that beneficial anyway. With so much to attach to a single verse, maybe it’s better left note-less. So that each time I read it, especially during Advent, I’ll remember what Mary hid away in her heart during those first precious hours. Her story, his story.
And that with each reading, the entire story – the beginning, middle and end – will be forever locked in my own heart.
This post is by Tanja Jameson, who tells people she works at Windstream as a cover for her real job as a woman of international intrigue. Married to Steve, mom to Bailey & Chipper, stepmom to Sara, Mark, and Geno. Sweet T to Jacob, Ethan, and Connor. Loves yoga. You can call her Millie but please don’t ever touch her head.