One part of the Christmas story has recently come to speak to me – and it’s not even central to the story! It could almost be considered as an aside comment from Luke.
You will find it in Luke 2:19, where he writes, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” From the first visit of the angel Gabriel to the arrival of the shepherds…everything she’s seen and heard…she lovingly stores these memories and ponders them.
To ponder is to think deeply. To dwell. To reflect upon. To meditate. To prayerfully wonder. I love the idea that Mary pondered and I wonder if it is something I should be doing more of – making time to ponder.
We find this concept elsewhere in Scripture too. Look with me at Psalm 8:3, where David says, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars…” Pause and take that in a moment. David considers. Isn’t that the same as pondering? I think so.
David sees the night sky and takes time to reflect upon it…to prayerfully wonder. And as he does so it leads him into the truths and things of God. And that – in turn – leads him to praise God.
So recently I’ve been practising the art of pondering…of considering. As I awake each day, I allow myself to be aware of the air filling my lungs. And as I pause to consider, I remind myself of Lamentations 3:22-23. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” And I praise God for the new day that lays ahead of me.
I go downstairs and brew my Hazelnut coffee…my favourite blend. As the beans grind, I sniff deeply and savour the rich scent, allowing it to linger…anticipating the taste to come. A simple pleasure that helps me ponder the God of Genesis 1:11. “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to various kinds”. And I thank God, the Creator and Giver of all good things.
After breakfast I take my dog for a walk. He’s a lively Springer Spaniel who enjoys being crazy in the woods. It’s autumn and the leaves are turning, the morning dew is heavy on the ground, glistening in the early sun. Spider webs shimmer. A woodpecker hammers. And like David I find myself reflecting. “When I consider the work of your fingers…” When I ponder the design of God’s creation…the intricacy…the beauty…the splendour. When I allow my senses to take in His handiwork, I find myself praising Him.
When I return home from my walk, I sit and open my Bible. I read and re-read the text again. I pause. I allow God’s truths to soak into me…to take root. I marvel at how Scripture pierces my heart – moulding and refining me. Teaching me about God. I delight in God’s character, which is being unveiled in His Word. I ask Him to change me in accordance with what I’m reading.
So I’m learning the art of pondering. The ability to slow down and take in God’s goodness all around me…to prayerfully consider what He wants me to see, say, hear, and touch. It doesn’t come naturally, because everything in me seems pre-programmed to rush.
With God’s help, and in His grace, we can all learn how to discover the joy of pondering. Here are two very simple suggestions:
- Pause. You have to make time. You have to take time. You have to slow down. You have to learn to take unhurried looks at the world around you. You have to give yourself time to read God’s Word. I’ve discovered that pondering requires a deliberate slowing.
- Pray. Invite God in. Ask Him to help you…to give you eyes to see, a mind to process, a heart to receive and respond in worship.
With that in mind, all that’s left for me to say is “Happy Pondering!”