“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”
I was eleven and my Bible Study teacher gave our class a homework assignment for Christmas break.
Write a letter to God, she said. Make it a prayer, a rededication, an offering of my own treasures, not the gold, frankincense, and myrrh of wise men, but the very finest gifts I could lay at the feet of a worthy God.
It was my Christmas gift to Him. I wrote it out on Christmas Eve, folded it up, tied it with a ribbon and placed it under the Christmas tree.
Two decades later, I have twenty years of Christmas Eve letters to God. It’s my most intimate and holy Christmas tradition. This Christmas Eve, I fingered the packet of letters and marveled at God’s gracious work in me.
One of my “rules” is no peeking at the letters on any day of the year other than Christmas Eve. Yet, on that one night a year, I can glance back at twenty years of me drawing near to God just as He drew near to us on the first Christmas of all.
Usually by about February each year I can see clear answers to the prayers I scribbled out on the page just months before.
Like the year I prayed that God would help me overcome my need to be a people-pleaser. Within two weeks I had actually managed to run into the deck on the back of my house with my car.
Kind of hard to see that as an answer to prayer at the time, but that’s one embarrassment that will humble you and break you of some people-pleasing!
Be careful what you pray for!
Other years, when crazy life events are happening just a few weeks into the new year, I wonder, “Did I pray for this somehow?!”
In some ways, this prayer letter is my moment to lay gifts before the King as the wise men did. It’s my recommitment to serve Him in a new year and place at His feet the deepest desire of my heart to give Him praise. I offer Him my very life, noting the places He is already at work in my character and asking Him for spiritual growth so I can bring Him glory.
Like the angels, though, I am also praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven” (Luke 2:14), as I give thanks and specific praise for the blessings of the year drawing to a close.
Then, like the shepherds, I turn my attention away from the busyness of work and daily life to see what God is doing in the heavens. I write my letter to God at night after my daughters are asleep, the dishes are done, the gifts are wrapped and under the tree. There, in near-darkness, illumined almost solely by Christmas lights, I pray and write.
I look away from the “sheep” in my care, lift my eyes and attune my heart to hear the announcement of good news, of promises for the future and the certainty of promises fulfilled. I dwell not just on what God has done or what He is doing, but what He will do in the new year. What burdens has He placed on my heart? What directions has He asked me to travel? What steps of obedience has He asked me to take?
Mostly though, my Christmas letter is a moment to be like Mary, who after the shepherds came “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). In the same way, she “treasured all these things in her heart” even when Jesus as a young boy became separated from his parents during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Sometimes God’s work in our lives needs times of reflection and stillness. What He reveals to us as we sit at His feet isn’t always meant for public announcements or official New Year’s resolutions, or campaigns or church-wide programs.
Sometimes God asks us to ponder and treasure, to reflect, pray, and wait for the appointed time.
So, I ponder. I ask for God’s perspective on my marriage, my kids, my ministry and job and heart and mind.
Instead of monopolizing my conversation with an oh-so-patient God, I ask for His input. Before I ever begin to write, I flip through my prayer journal and track the themes I see there.
How at times everything I read seems to be about grace. Or prayer. Or allowing Him to bring light into dark places. Or believing God for the impossible. Or how He is a God who restores.
I follow the clear path of what He has already been doing in my life and then I join Him there in that place. Yes, Lord, I pray, be at work here. I will join You. I will be submissive and receptive to what You want to do in me.
It’s too late for you to sit in the stillness of a Christmas Eve and write your own letter this year, but the new year is just days away. What a perfect time to begin a holy and intimate tradition of your own. A letter to Your Savior.
What gifts do you have to lay before the King? What songs of thanks can you sing in the night? What do you see in the spiritual places when you shift your focus off the physical daily routine of life? What has God been doing in you and teaching you that you need to ponder in your heart?
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King