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I remember the moment in vivid detail. Holding my baby daughter in the church lobby just moments after her dedication, a stranger approached me with a blessing of encouragement she wanted to share. As I soaked in every word of hope she poured out concerning my child, I was overcome with wonder and gratitude at this beautiful, breathtaking gift. More than two years have passed, and I still treasure that encounter—reflecting often on the significance and meaning of her words and how they might manifest in my daughter’s future.

More than two thousand years earlier, another new mother listened even more intently as a stranger spoke prophetic words over her child. Jesus’ arrival was heralded by an angel, His conception shrouded in the miraculous and the divine. Mary already knew this was no ordinary child, yet as the shepherds took their place in the hot, dusty stable, preparing to share their message from On High, she was glimpsing a vision of who this baby boy would one day become.

Savior. Messiah. Christ the Lord.

What a moment it must have been. “All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them,” we read in Luke 2:18-19 (NIV), “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

There is a lesson for us here. In the midst of the clamor and excitement of this divine encounter, Mary was still—quietly soaking in the magnitude of those precious, thrilling, terrifying words from her Father about her son and the prophecies that would one day come to pass.

WORDS TO TREASURE

“But Mary treasured up all these things in her heart.”

My youngest daughter is rarely without her little purse of treasures. A glittery hair clip, a bouncy ball, a pine cone—to name but a few. These simple, everyday objects are highly valued, cherished, and loved by her. From a perspective of maturity, it may seem a little foolish to carry around such a random assortment of items, yet ironically as adults, we do exactly the same in our own way. Perhaps you carry a photograph of a special person, a card with a sweet, meaningful message, tickets from a memorable concert—these are our treasures. We hold mementos and memories as we move through life. Yet this very natural human impulse to seek and preserve the riches of this world comes with a warning.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:2, NIV).

The things we value the most also take up the most space in our hearts, utilizing the majority of our time, energy and resources. Glance at the calendar and you may catch a pattern emerge, revealing our true priorities and maybe even the idols we are inadvertently worshipping. They are treasures with no lasting value.

“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17).

As daughters of the King, we are instead offered treasure with eternal value—the Word of God.

“I rejoice at your Word like one who finds great spoil,” the Psalmist extols in Psalm 119:162.

“And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times” (Psalm 12:6, NIV).

Mary was experiencing this treasure first hand. It was all around her—in the Word made flesh lying in her arms, the angelic visitors, and the promises and prophecies unfolding in front of her eyes. She couldn’t possibly miss it. And yet more than two thousand years later we too have been gifted the same opportunity. The Word of God is in our homes and on our smartphones. Available and accessible to anyone at any time, God’s treasure trove is waiting to be unearthed, explored, and lived. How could we possibly miss it?

REALIZING ITS WORTH

“But Mary treasured up all these things in her heart.”

I was definitely not a quick learner when I first sat behind the wheel of a car! The amount of focus and concentration required during lessons left me utterly drained. Even listening to the radio or holding a conversation was too distracting for the complexities of the task at hand. More than ten years later, it’s a very different story. Driving has become a familiar activity so entrenched in my daily routine that I now don’t need to think about all the various steps which once exhausted me.

Our attitude toward the Scriptures can be similar. As new believers, we tend to approach God’s Word with laser focus and hungry, eager hearts. We pore over every detail as we study and learn this unfamiliar language of heaven. And then, over time, there is a shift in our thinking, our attitude, and our practices. Bibles, once treasured, now sit forgotten on dusty shelves. Stories and verses that once made our hearts beat wildly and brought us to our knees in wonder and worship, are now reduced to the familiar and mundane—at risk of losing their beauty, power, and significance.

It was never supposed to be this way.

Mary heard the Word of God directly through the mouths of angels and prophets, and even Jesus Himself. But make no mistake, our Word is living too.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Reading God’s Word was never designed to be a passive process or an afterthought before we drift off to sleep. As we hold the living, breathing Word of God in our hands, He offers us a glimpse of Himself. We have an opportunity to interact with the Kingdom of Heaven through Words of Truth that have endured and prophecies that have no less power now than they did all those years ago in a dusty stable in Bethlehem.

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1-5).

Like Mary, we are called once more to rediscover our appetite for God’s precious Word. As we desire it and treasure it, we will come to a greater understanding of who He is and who we are in Him. Our hearts and minds will be enlightened, leading us on the path to forgiveness, restoration, and abundant life.

PRESERVING THE TREASURE

“But Mary treasured up all these things in her heart.

There is a reason my phone continually runs out of storage, why my basement is full of baby clothes I can no longer use, and my children’s memory boxes are overflowing before they’ve even reached kindergarten.

It may be impractical—and a nightmare for my husband’s minimalist tastes—but I want to keep everything. These everyday objects, small and insignificant as they may appear, are tangible connections to my children’s lives—memories I desperately want to preserve for years to come. Mary, too, was preserving that which she did not want to lose.

Those prophecies about her son—she would likely cling to them later. Later, when this helpless, suckling baby of hers would one day become a man, hanging on a cross for the sins of the world—His torment and suffering on display for all to see. When the life vanished from His eyes and His broken body lay in a tomb, she grieved for Him—anguished and hurting, questioning the events that led to His death, and the God who put Him there. She needed those promises of comfort, peace, and hope, hidden away in her heart, to sustain her through the most unimaginable pain.

When we plant the Word of God deep in our hearts, our lives will yield its fruit. The words of wisdom, comfort, and encouragement will sustain us through desperate circumstances, giving us reason to hope when all seems lost. They will infuse us with the joy of the Lord, inducing us to raise a Hallelujah, praising Him in spite of it all. The Word of God arms us for battle—our greatest weapon against the Enemy’s lies. When Jesus encountered the Devil in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-11, He countered him three times with Words of Truth.

“It is written…

It is written…

It is written…”

The Word made flesh was imprinted with the Words of His Father. As His followers, we are called to do the same.

“Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, NRSV).

It’s not simply enough to know the treasure exists or appreciate its value. We need to imprint it on our minds and store it deep in our hearts. For “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart” (Matthew 15:18). As we soak in the Word of God, it, in turn, pours out of us, reflecting through our words, our actions, and the way we choose to live our lives. Our hearts and souls sing the language of heaven, preserving it for our seasons of greatest need, and keeping it alive for the generations to come.

. . .

There is a reason the word Selah appears more than seventy times in the Psalms. Widely accepted to indicate a musical interlude or pause, it is an invitation to stop and reflect and soak in the inspired Words that have come before. As Charles Spurgeon said in his commentary “Treasury of David”:

“SELAH: precious pause, timely silence.”

As we approach another fast-paced, frenetic holiday season, Mary’s powerful, thoughtful response in the stable so long ago should give us cause to pause. To selah. May we come before the living, breathing, eternal riches of the Word of God with reverence and awe once more, rediscover it, in all its power and glory, and treasure it in our hearts.

“Those who know where the treasure lies joyfully abandon everything else to secure it.”

– D.A. CARSON

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