[Part 2, Chapter 9]
To make up a word, Mary is a ponderer. She revels in pondering.
But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”
Pondering is Mary’s depth. It is her weapon.
To be sure, there is a pondering that can be a bed mate of procrastinating. There is day-dreaming that can take us into fantasy or fear.
But this is not Mary. Her pondering is the reflective, questioning, meditative response that has her digging deeper, with Holy Spirit, into things she can’t understand.
Her pondering leads to treasuring.
But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”
In the late 1990s, I was the senior pastor of a rapidly growing congregation. With growth comes challenges. Challenges, when faced in our own strength, can lead to anxiety. Anxiety can lead to sleeplessness. Lying awake at night, tossing and turning, a thousand things going through my head … I assure you, my ‘pondering’ was not Mary’s restful posture that led to treasuring.
It was then I decided to memorise Philippians 4:4-7.
It was liberating. I set my mind to rejoicing for who I am and what I have (v 4). I celebrated that he is near, close at hand (v 5). I took up thanksgiving for what I have instead of complaining for what was lacking (v 6). I received his peace as a guard around my heart and mind keeping me safe in Jesus (v 7).
Jump forward twenty years to this present time, June 2018. I have just learned off-by-heart the next verses from Philippians 4.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Why? My mind had been going to untrue places. Even worse, this was giving me a defeatist attitude. “I’m never going to be rid of this!” “How can I write on favour when I’m having these thought patterns.”
Pondering has changed that. I asked Holy Spirit to help me. Every time a negative thought came, I would declare Philippians 4 out loud, and ponder its power for my position.
It freed me.
Freed, by pondering?
Freed by Holy Spirit! And the treasure he gave me to ponder on.