“I was young and fearful,” she continued, delighting in the opportunity to share what she had treasured for so long. However, the bittersweet sting of those distant memories brought her back to that strange place. Strange, not only because it lacked the warmth and comfort of home but because their destination had taken them so far away from those that would have surrounded her with nurturing, knowledgeable care. As she continued to relay her story, she could almost feel the chill of that dark, dank cave on her now aged skin and smell the putrid air once again. “I remember so many questions and unspoken concerns that plagued my young heart that night. Questions like, ‘Did I make a mistake in coming?’ or ‘If only I hadn’t insisted on staying an extra day before leaving maybe we could have gotten better lodging.' Oh, but these thoughts came and went as the sudden pangs of the next contraction seized me. The time was near, and we needed to do what had to be done, so my husband and I made the best of what seemed like a bad situation. He was strong and patient, but I could see the concern mixed with fear in his eyes. There we were, seemingly all alone, and feeling somehow like we had failed. Never the less, nature took its course, and there in that drafty, damp, cold, smelly place He, Jesus, was born. Using what was available, Joseph removed the ‘swaddling clothes’ from his waist. I then took the long gauze-like strips and gently wrapped up the baby’s soft fragile tiny body for warmth. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the significance of wrapping Him, our precious newborn, in what is usually reserved for a traveler’s death. Burial clothes!
A long pause hung in the air as she pondered that moment.
Luke then gently asked, trying to thoroughly uncover all the facts from this amazing yet humble woman, “So you were all alone that night? Besides you and Joseph there were no other witnesses to His birth?”
“Yes and no,” Mary thoughtfully replied with a slight grin on her face as if she was about to reveal some hidden secret treasure.
“We had visitors. Not the kind you might expect for the arrival of a King, but you and I both know that Jesus is no ordinary King.'
"I was exhausted and needed to rest,” she resumed, “and although my arms longed to hold Him close, both Joseph and I thought it best not to have the baby on the filthy wet floor. So Joseph did what he could to make the feeding trough sanitary, dry, and warm. I laid there intent on capturing the sound of every breath and movement of my newborn baby as my mind again began to question; had we somehow missed God’s direction or could we have made better choices to assure His arrival would come in a more welcoming environment?"
"At the same time, I was awestruck with the wonder and responsibility of birthing God’s Son who was so tiny and dependent. Dependant on me, His mother! With my thoughts and emotions swirling, I drifted off to sleep whispering a prayer expressing both my concern and amazement."
"The next thing I remember, Joseph was gently waking me up to alert me of visitors. I did my best to compose myself as Joseph brought the only lamp we had closer. The unexpected visitors humbly came into the light, and as they did their faces seemed to radiate with joy. Hardly able to contain themselves these men shared with great animation details about what they had witnessed. (A MULTITUDE OF ANGELS REJOICING!!) I could barely hold back the tears! All my doubts and questions were melting with every word they spoke. Suddenly in my heart, I was overwhelmed with the intimate knowledge that we were precisely where we were supposed to be. In a moment that dark, cool, unfriendly cave was strangley transformed into a cozy, friendly place of warmth and love. By sending these shepherds directly to us to adore their Savior, God had affirmed, encouraged, and warmed our souls! There were many things that I would not be able to understand in the days and years to come, but what I did know and was convinced of in that moment, I tucked securely in my heart as a treasure to ponder and as an anchor for my soul: Immanuel, God is with us!"
“But Mary treasured all these things and
pondered them in her heart” Luke 2:19