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You don't really know how the stories of Christmas play out

Here is a rule of thumb: Even if the angel Gabriel came and told you how your entire life story will play out, you’d still be befuddled by the next thing that happens to you.

Isn’t that what we get from Mary? This is the mother of Jesus. But even Mary, who was in fact visited by the angel Gabriel and told what would happen, was still in the dark about how things would play out.

Fast forward to when she and Joseph had to look for their missing son for three days – three days! can you imagine what she went through! – before they finally found him in the temple. “What are you doing to us!” they cried. “Don’t you know I have to be in my Father’s house?” the boy Jesus replied.

And then it says: “They did not understand what he was saying to them.”

Now look, we have heard of “the fog of war.” Never mind that. What we need to hear is “the fog of life.” Life is essentially a fog.

In this fog, even if the angel Gabriel came and told you the rest of your life story, you’d still be befuddled by the next thing that happens to you.

So how to steer one’s course?

Mary treasured matters in her heart. This was Mary’s trademark behavior: something happens, and she treasured the matter in her heart.

So here is a clue: not only the Word of God (the Bible) in the abstract, but also in each event that happens, you ponder and treasure the matter in your heart in light of that Word.

What does it mean to treasure? Well, you fuss over it, you toss and turn it over in your mind, you value it, you look for and see things in it that others do not ever see.

They had no idea what Jesus meant, but Mary treasured these things in her heart.

If we treasure the Word of God in this way as we face the events of our lives, out of it will come many stories of Immanuel = God with us, even though, on the ground and in real time, we still won't know how things play out.

But the way they play out, well, these would be the stories of Christmas for us.


Luke 1.26-33 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

Luke 2.48-51 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.

Matthew 1.23 The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel - which means, "God with us."

Luke 2.19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.


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