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. 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
There have been times in my life when there’s been a plot twist so big that words fail me and I’m left to ponder in quiet stillness. This uncharacteristic calm is something that still surprises me, especially since I’m typically the kind of person that processes things out loud. But sometimes there are just events or circumstances in life that are so big, they are beyond our comprehension. In those moments, I find the only way to make sense of things is to sit with the Lord and let Him make sense of it for me.
So I’ll steal away to a quiet, comfy place in my house, or to a coffee shop where I can write and think and pray. Inevitably, as I sit with the Lord, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of safety and peace. He is my safe space, my refuge. He’ll never judge me for feeling like my thoughts are chaotic and scattered. He is patient with me and helps me lay out all the pieces of the puzzle so that I can begin to process and see where God might be at work. Without fail, He leads me gently to a place where, even if I can’t see the whole big picture, I can at least see Him.
I imagine Mary had several of those moments in her life where life took such a big turn that words just failed her and she had to just sit with the Lord and take it all in. I wonder if that’s what Mary was experiencing in Luke 2:19 when it says, she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
In this part of Mary’s story, she had just given birth to Jesus, in a barn, after days of traveling. She would have been beyond tired, and this was likely not the birth scenario she had imagined. Sitting in that barn, looking at this little baby who was fully God and fully human must have felt so surreal, so beyond comprehension. In these moments after Jesus’ birth, she would have been busy caring for her newborn, focused on his needs and on resting and healing herself. Having strangers suddenly drop by may not quite have been what she envisioned. But when a group of shepherds show up at the stable after an angel of the Lord tells them of Jesus’ birth, Mary is gracious. Instead of shooing them away or recoiling at what may have felt like an intrusion, Mary is generous with her time, with her heart and with Jesus.
As the shepherds stood there amazed at the foot of the manger, they recognized that this baby was the Messiah. Maybe it was in that moment that Mary zoomed out and saw a bigger view of an even bigger picture. Perhaps it was then Mary realized that she and Joseph were not the only ones who believed that what God said would happen, was now finally happening. Immanuel, God with us, had arrived.
As the shepherds left to go tell everyone what they had seen and heard, Mary was left in the stillness, in a quiet moment of solace to ponder and marvel at all God had done, was doing and would do in the days to come. She knew they were on the edge of something big, and even though she couldn’t see the whole big picture, she could see God in the face of her newborn baby.
In our lives we experience many twists and turns. We experience events when time seems to stand still, whether for better or worse. We too can sit with the Lord in safety and peace, and see his face in the midst of whatever we are going through. He was then, and is still, our hope, our comfort, our Immanuel, God with us.