I have heard the story of Christ’s birth countless times. I have read the gospel accounts, listened to commentaries, seen it re-enacted, have books ranging in detail from simplistic kids versions to adult studies and devotionals. I know all the characters and the events leading up to and following His birth. I even have some aspects of the story memorized in a couple of different Bible translations. If that sounds prideful, it’s because it is. My familiarity with what I would have called a fundamental Christian account, caused me to forget that I will never fully know or understand all the truths the Word of God contains. Hebrew 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Since the word is active, I should constantly be seeking new depths of the Word rather than being surprised when they come. I should, yet I was shocked to discover a part of Christ’s birth story that I had missed.
“The word is active. We should constantly be seeking new depths of the Word rather than being surprised when they come.”
After the shepherds were visited by angels, who declared Christ’s birth, they rushed to meet this all-important baby who caused the heavens to open with singing and rejoicing at the very mention of His arrival. As would be expected, they told those along their way of the amazing, supernatural event that had taken place. Also as expected, people thought they were kind of crazy. Tucked away amidst being told about the shepherds is a verse in Luke that I honestly can’t remember noticing before. Luke 2:19, states, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” It’s such a quiet and inconspicuous verse. Amongst the importance of the event, it hardly seems worth mentioning.
Mary had the awesome and unparalleled privilege of mothering the Son of God. The gravity of that is astounding! The overwhelming nature of that truth shouldn’t cause us to forget that there were also midnight feedings and linen diaper blowouts. There were ”hungry” cries and ”hold me” cries and ”don’t hold me” cries. There wasn’t a heavenly host of angel nannies that assisted Mary along the way. There weren’t periodic lunch dates with the angel Gabriel to reaffirm the promise of who Christ was, His calling, and Mary’s calling as His mother. The Bible says when Jesus was in the midst of His ministry He didn’t do any mighty works in Nazareth because of their unbelief. In Mark 6:4-6 the Word says “And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.” Had there been periodic signs and wonders throughout His upbringing or visitations by angels, those in the town would have been aware. There would have been whispers and murmurs about the child who was followed by miracles. At the very least, His brothers would have surely noticed any supernatural happenings. “Not even his brothers believed in him (John 7:5).”
That gives us a glimpse at how unremarkable Christ’s upbringing was; it was average. For Mary, Christ’s childhood was filled with normal days of discouragement, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, and exhaustion. At 12, Christ stayed in Jerusalem instead of journeying home with His family and Mary didn’t know where He was for 3 days. The implications of that are unimaginable. As a parent, I recoil at the thought of losing my son for even a short time. Even those without a child can understand in part how frightening that would be.
Let’s go back for a second. Years earlier, Luke 2:19 says Mary had begun collecting and deeply burying all the miracles that had happened in her heart. She stored away all the accounts of others who had been a part of Christ’s birth story. She built a reserve of God’s truth from her experiences. Everything from angel visitations to the encouragement she received from her 3 months with her cousin Elizabeth, was kept in her heart. On those normal days and even more so on bad days, think of how important those treasures became. Those visible signs of God’s divine works, long hidden away, would have been invaluable. The peace and reassurance they offered would have been priceless treasures.
There are so many things we collect. Many of which break or fall apart. Others get lost or their value to us diminishes. Even more get tucked away in memory boxes and slowly fade from our memory. These are temporary treasures and despite how meaningful they are, they can’t sustain us. Worldly treasures will never fulfill us or have any power to bring us out of darkness and despair. The Word of God is a faultless and everlasting treasure. Testimony of God’s power, presence, provision, faithfulness, and love will help us overcome in life. When the adrenaline and emotion from new revelation or God’s works lessens, we will be left with routine; with our normal. If we haven’t deeply pondered the things God did when they happened and rooted them in our hearts, we can find ourselves always searching for the next sign from God. We can find ourselves asking God to prove Himself over and over again in our lives. It’s not that God can’t or won’t continually come to our rescue, but a life of stability doesn’t make that a contingency for our faith and obedience.
“Temporary treasures, despite how meaningful they are, can’t sustain us. They will never fulfill us or have any power to bring us out of darkness and despair.
That little verse, those few words, offer astounding wisdom. The ease at which we can document and memorialize things has definitely increased. I would personally say my collection of memorials doesn’t always reflect that. At times, my pride forces self-praise and self-sufficiency into places God has left His mark. The Holy Spirit is faithful to bring correction and remind me of how God has helped me. “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you,” says John 14:26. Even during the birth of Christ, He, who divinely-inspired the scripture (2 Timothy 2:16), took a moment to tell us to treasure all the things that God does. Ponder and dwell upon them, He directs through Mary’s example, and keep them in your heart. They are treasures and they will be needed.