I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 21 years. I love mowing the grass. I love taking leisurely baths. I love going on long walks. Why? Because these three avenues of “escape” have, over the years, provided my best “thinking” opportunities! And I do love to think! I find myself slowly pondering a situation, a person, a challenge, a hurt, a book, a thought, a joy, a sorrow – really anything. I roll the matter over and over in my mind, chewing on it, often worrying about it, considering it from every possible angle.
When I was expecting our first child, I asked one of the partners in my firm (a father of three bright, articulate, hard-working kids) “How do I get my child to THINK?” In my view, if you can think first, consider a situation, analyze an action or response, or come up with a few different approaches, you will save yourself a lot of trouble – and stay out of it as well!
While my thinking sometimes does, in fact, get me in trouble, it also allows me the privilege of assessing my life – its twists and turns, its blessings, its trials. Pondering bestows the gift of appreciating the way God has led me, the sweet husband and daughters He has brought into my life, the manner in which He has provided for us in good times and bad.
When I haven’t taken the time to really, deeply think on these things, I tend to take them for granted. To assume they are the result of “me” – my work, my decisions, my wishes.
I’ve about decided deep thinking doesn’t come naturally. It takes much less time, effort and energy to merely observe, think and react to things at a shallow, surface level.
When I fail to take the time to really think deeply, I can easily miss out on hidden nuggets of knowledge, wisdom and insight. If my thoughts don’t seep much beneath the surface, I may miss out on a more enlightened understanding of myself, my life, the world, my blessings, those around me, God’s Word, even God Himself.
The second chapter of Luke tells us after the birth of Jesus, the shepherds hurried to find Mary, Joseph and the baby in Bethlehem. After their visit, the shepherds spread the word of the amazing birth. And Mary? Scripture doesn’t say she sent out announcements, she didn’t post a picture and message on Facebook, she didn’t call all of her friends and family. She merely treasured the sweet occasion of her son’s arrival with its special surroundings and visitors – – – she simply “pondered them in her heart”. Twelve years later, Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus after, unbeknownst to them, He didn’t leave Jerusalem with them at the conclusion of the Passover Feast. Upon finding him, Mary (I can imagine both a bit frantically and with frustration) asked why he had treated them like he had. She expressed her anxious feelings. Neither she nor Joseph could truly understand his explanation. Any parent can relate! But did she get angry, sulk or grumble about his behavior? Nope – she treasured these things in her heart as well. In order for her to even begin to grasp an understanding of the miracle of her son, she quietly held these things close to her heart, thinking on them, guarding them and seeking deeper comprehension of his life and purpose. She thought. She pondered. She treasured.
What wisdom and understanding I can gain as a mother, wife or friend if only I take the time to ponder and think as did Mary! What insight might I attain if I strive to get below those initial layers of behaviors, actions and words? If only I think, how much deeper my discernment and wider my perception?
One of the more familiar verses in Psalms is in Psalm 42. Verse 1 says: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. The Psalm speaks of seeking God in times of need. Verse 7 says: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls.” Often, we can only reach the deepest, sweetest, dearest and most clear knowledge of God when we call out from that deep place within ourselves. That takes time and thought, reflection and evaluation. It often takes silent and lonely contemplation.
Do you know as much as 95 percent of the world’s oceans remain unexplored? As of the year 2000, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that as much as 95 percent of the world’s oceans and 99 percent of the ocean floor are unexplored. That’s incredible! Exploration of these regions deep below the ocean’s surface is difficult, time-consuming and expensive. It’s easy to explore the shallow waters close to shore.
So it is with things of the Lord, even with the people and events in our own lives. It is easy, doesn’t take much time or “cost” us much to learn about the shallow or uncomplicated matters. It is much simpler to grasp the outer shell of a person or a situation than to dive deeper.
However, in not fully “pondering” or seeking deeper knowledge and understanding of God, His Word, our spouse, our children, our friends, our community, our circumstances, we may lose out on treasured insights that only come from taking the time to do so.
My husband often begins conversations with, “I’ve got a question”. I generally begin them with, “I’ve been thinking” – – probably not always music to his ears.
I invite you to join me in my ponderings. You may have your own special place of “escape”. It can be a bit scary to delve deeper. But the discovery of that rare, treasured nugget of understanding and clarity will be invaluable.