16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[d] 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant. 51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
I find it fascinating that Dr. Luke was led by the Holy Spirit to record twice that Mary treasured up or stored important words and events in her heart. It seemed right from Luke’s vantage point to make note of this. We should be equally as eager to notice and ask why?
Mary understood, in order for her to properly fulfill the call and destiny she had been called to, she needed to properly steward the words and experiences she had. I am finding that in my own life and call from God, that this is incredibly important. You rarely need or get to have a full understanding of what God is calling you to all at once, and uncertainty can be intimidating. The day to day grind of life can begin to bury our expectancy for what the Lord is doing in us. So in order to keep moving forward in faith, we serve ourselves well to steward the prophetic words and experiences that confirm God is doing something glorious through our lives. Treasuring what God has done and said in our hearts acts as a defense system from being worn down by everyday life. Many of you have heard me tell the story, but Jesus gave me a prophetic dream in my sleep of ministering in Appalachian mountain towns almost 10 years before I ever did. When I had the dream, I had no clue what it meant, but I knew it was from God and it was important to remember. So I stored it in my heart. Between the ten years of having the dream and seeing it come to fulfillment, there were many more normal everyday moments than there were glorious God moments. It would have been easy to discard the dream after a month of just living life and moving on. I did not realize it then, like I do now, but the Lord was teaching me to steward what He was doing in me. By giving me a dream to steward way before it was fulfilled, He was teaching me to be expectant for more of Him, without me even knowing it. This is the power of storing words and experiences with God in our hearts.
I think at times we tend to forget how extraordinary Mary’s story is in the Gospels. Familiarity makes us forget that these were real people with real emotions, responding the best they could to a situation that no one could plan for in a million lifetimes. Amidst all that, she was a young girl who did and maybe didn't do everything right. Even though Mary faithfully moved forward in her call, I firmly believe she was able, because she had a practice of storing, treasuring, and considering deeply all of the different parts of her story that she knew was from God.
In this sense, her heart was like a security box or a safe, within she examined and protected her most precious moments and words from God that would keep her anchored and moving forward into what He was calling her to. Let’s face it, like Mary we all have more normal life moments than we do extravagant Glory of God moments that demand our attention. It’s important that we don’t let our God moments get buried under the weight of our everyday moments. We need to implement the same discipline for expectancy Mary did. Storing our words and events that are clearly from the Lord is spiritual warfare against the spirit of complacency and fatigue.
Now you may be reading this and think, John I don’t have any words or experiences with God to keep me anchored and expectant. Well then you may need to make some adjustments in the way you are engaging with God and His call for you. First, you need to take seriously that Holy Spirit wants you to hear and experience Him in accordance with your call. Secondly, you need to begin asking Him to speak to you as you position yourself to listen. Make yourself available to trusted friends and community who can speak God’s Word into your life. Test everything against Scripture of course, but don't take for granted words that are clearly from God. Write them down, pray into them and in faith store them in your heart.
The simple truth is that God has a glorious plan and purpose for each of our lives. He has things stored up for us that we could never imagine to even ask for. So in response, we need to store in our hearts the things that we know are clearly from Him.