Today it seems like all is back to business, but I didn’t want to let the season pass before appreciating all God has done in 2014. With the story of Christmas still fresh in mind, I want to continue Mary’s lead just two days more.

In my last post, I explored the treasures of being chosen and validated. Today, I want to look at two more blessings we share with Mary – deliverance and fellowship. 
Mary was delivered in childbirth, which is no small matter, but there is so much more to her story. God delivered her from the shame of divorce, death by stoning, the sword of King Herod, and loneliness in her life’s work. He did this through Joseph, divine messengers, and by weaving faithful followers into the fabric of her life.
I’ve experienced God’s deliverance in many ways as well – from accidents when I could have been seriously hurt, or hurt someone else in my path. He has prevented me from making disastrous relationship choices, even when I resisted His wisdom. Most of all, He has delivered my soul from eternal death. For that I will praise Him forever! Just this last year, He delivered me from a plaguing depression that stretched on for months, as well as a sense of helpless despair over the choices of loved ones. And I am confident He will continue to deliver me in these and other ways. 
What have you been delivered from in 2014? We don’t often see God’s angelic host, protecting and rescuing us from harm, but we often look back and realize what could have happened (Psa. 18:2). What unhealthy relationships has God delivered you from? What fatal or debilitating accidents or illnesses have you survived? What destructive choices has He swayed you from making? Take time to praise Him for His rescue – especially when He halted your steps on a willful, stubborn path. 
It may not seem like a big deal to us today, but I’d be willing to bet the arrival of the shepherds – unwashed strangers that they were – were a huge encouragement to Mary and Joseph.  They were in a strange town, huddled in a dirty stable (possibly a cave). It probably felt like God had forgotten them. Then the shepherds arrived, excitedly talking about the angel’s announcement and bursting with joy of the news. Suddenly, in the fellowship of others, that dirty stable became a party.
Fellowship makes all the difference. Just the other night I experienced the wonderful encouragement of the body of Christ. I was emotionally and physically depleted. Wondering if I was making more of a mess of things than accomplishing God’s work. I stepped into a gathering of believers and was instantly surrounded with love, hugs, prayer, and a listening ear. Oh, how I thank God we do not have to walk this path alone! He gives us companions for the journey. Thank you Jesus!
I hope you will continue Mary’s journey with me in the last “Ponderings” post. Twelve years after Jesus’ birth, we find her still meditating on the riches of God’s plan. I suppose she did do a few other things in the meantime, but in the Bible, this next scene is just an inch or two down the page. I have so many questions about what happened in between, but for some reason God didn’t think we needed to know any of that. Instead, He tells the story of Mary and Joseph’s terrifying experience and how they chose to respond to every parent’s worst fear – a missing child.