“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
It was certainly a remarkable time for Mary. A visitation from an Angel. A baby, son of God foretold and then born. Wisemen and Shepherds gathering to worship her newborn son. Declarations over a little Jesus by Simeon and Anna. Extraordinary experiences. Noteworthy. There were “crumbs of confirmation” (Sacred Space). Enough to help her believe.
But in amongst these experiences must have been many ordinary days. Days that were mundane focused on everyday life – eating, sleeping. Hard days too as Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt to protect Jesus. Hard days as refugees in a foreign land. Did Mary ever waiver in her faith as she waited for the promise to be made manifest as she pondered what had occurred in amongst the caring for Jesus.
The key was what Mary did with all these signs and words, these crumbs of confirmation.
Everything that was said about Jesus, all the words and signs, she secreted away in her heart and pondered on them. It meant, that in the ordinary days and in the dark days, her heart held hope, light and treasure for her future and that of her precious son.
Like Mary, we all have times when we receive a Scripture, a sign, a prophetic word for something in our lives. We need to secret them away in our hearts. Ponder and meditate on them. So that when the days weary us or they are dark, we have these keys, these tools from God to help us keep on. They hold grace for today. The truth of God and His promises to us remain rooted in our spirit.
For several years now I’ve driven past the café 2 minutes from my house without so much of a second thought. On the corner of a busy road, it just didn’t appeal, it looked empty and bland. When I have gone to grab a coffee I have headed to my favourite haunts in the next suburb over. However, recently on a recommendation I ventured in, and found what I have been missing all these years. Within the doors of this inconsequential looking café are delicious French pastries, made fresh on site each day. Warm, light, flaky and buttery croissants, either plain, chocolate or almond. Soft cinnamon brioches glazed to perfection. Tarts piled high with strawberries and cream. The coffee too, hot, strong and delicious. Friendly and lovely staff. I have been won over.
So often we judge by appearance and not just when it comes to cafes. We judge other people by how they look, whether it is the person applying for the job, the person at the door, a potential date or a friend. Anyone we come into contact with we can make assumptions based on how they look. We judge ourselves too, and often even harsher than on a stranger. We can criticise how we look or appear, we can focus on the flaws. Barraged with photo shopped images in media, we can become discontent or spiral into comparative living by measuring how we look compared to every other woman on the planet. We can think our appearance disqualifies us from pursuing our dreams. We can think our appearance matters most for being loved and accepted.
Appearances aren’t everything. We need to remember that we were created and are loved by a God who favours our heart about all. Nothing in a person’s outward appearance impresses God. God looks upon the inner beauty, the beauty of one’s heart.
“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7) While the Bible mentions the beauty of Sarah, of Rebekah, the external beauty of the one He chose to be mother to Jesus was not mentioned. What we do know, however, is that Mary was a woman who found favour with God and who despite the risks, ridicule and danger said yes to God. And to God, that was what mattered most.
“You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” (1 Peter 3:4)
It is the inner beauty that captivates the heart. It is the inner beauty that matters.