Written by Mary Ellen Hill Bryan.
Pondering is good for the soul. I don’t ponder enough. Do you?
Pondering…that’s what I’m doing right now…sitting in front of the ﬁreplace with a cup of hot chocolate, a computer on my lap, and three cats so close I feel as if I’m wearing a fur coat…sitting here…just pondering. It is eerily quiet outside. Snow is falling heavily, and the snowﬂakes are fat and wet. The only noise inside is the constant tick-tock, tick-tock of the grandfather clock. It is reminiscent of a day ten years ago when I sat in a hospital room watching the snow fall as Vann, my best friend and husband of 21 years, lay dying in a hospital bed. It was so quiet outside, and the snow ﬂurries were frantically rushing around. I remember it was cold in the hospital room, and I couldn’t seem to get warm. I sat there in that quiet, cold hospital room and pondered. Sickness and death cause me to ponder God’s plan.
Three months after Vann died, the Lord blessed some dear friends of ours with a baby, and they named the baby Vann. As I held that precious child in my arms, I couldn’t help but wonder what God’s plan is for his life. I know he will grow up in a godly home with godly parents, but will he be godly himself? Will he stray from God during his college years and never come back? Will he recognize his gifts and use them in God’s service? A new baby causes me to ponder God’s plan.
I grew up in a children’s home. I often wondered what I had done wrong that would cause God to make me live there. Starting at age six I had horrible migraine headaches. When I would get a migraine, I would take my thin, cotton bedspread off my bed, wrap it around my head to block out all the light and then lie down on my closet ﬂoor, which was the coolest, darkest, quietest place I could ﬁnd. I spent a lot of time on that closet ﬂoor talking to God…and pondering His ways.
At age 14 I was adopted and left the children’s home. What great expectations I had for a happy life! I was no longer the “homer” that kids at school who had parents made fun of. I was now a kid with my own parents! It was great! Well, for three weeks anyway, till my adopted dad came to my room in the middle of the night and showed me the price I had to pay for being able to leave the children’s home…trying times cause me to ponder God’s plan.
Spring is coming, and with it, new growth,
time for reﬂection,
and time to think about making changes.
I would like to spend more
of my God-given time pondering His Word.
Will you join me?
There wasn’t much joy in my life for the next few years. My talks with God grew less and less frequent, and I stopped pondering God’s ways in my life. When my adopted dad surrendered his life to Christ and became a preacher, I was so angry with God for forgiving my dad that I quit speaking to God (and my parents) altogether.
I decided God didn’t care about me, so, why should I care about Him? I had no intention of wasting any of my time thinking about Him or pondering His ways. So, I didn’t. I gave up on God. For the next 18 years I lived my life as if God didn’t exist.
He didn’t give up on me, though. He began drawing me back to Himself and to church, which is where I met Vann. Vann and I faithfully attended church every Sunday. We were very active at church our entire married life; we tithed, we sang in the choir and participated in the church’s outreach ministries.
Imagine our surprise in 2007 when we learned we weren’t on our way to heaven! Never, during our many years of church attendance (keep in mind it wasn’t a gospel-preaching church) had we heard that we must depend on Jesus Christ’s ﬁnished work on the cross ALONE to pay the death penalty for our sin! On May 17, 2007, during week three of a four-week Bible study we were participating in with our pastor and his wife, we were shown this truth. That arrow of truth pierced our hearts, and Vann and I both accepted the gift of salvation. There is no way we could have known that 289 days later Vann would be walking the streets of gold with the Master, but our gracious and merciful God knew.
Even after I accepted Christ as my Savior and began reading the Bible in earnest, I still wasn’t aware of the importance of actually pondering God’s Word. It was during Vann’s six-week hospital stay and the months following his death that I spent a lot of time with the Lord. It is amazing what He taught me in the quiet moments of those months. I praise the Lord for using Vann’s illness and subsequent death to force me to slow down, to think about what is important, and to think about God’s promises and their practical application to my life.
Snow has fallen all afternoon. It is deep now, deep enough to cancel tonight’s planned activities. All the barren trees and shrubs are blanketed in a thick covering of beautiful, pristine snow. Tonight my busy world is blanketed in that same snow, and I ﬁnd myself with the unexpected gift of a quiet evening to myself…to ponder and write.
We reminisce about the “good ol’ days” of our youth when life wasn’t so busy and complicated, when we had time to spend with family and to just “be.” We long to slow down and have the time to ponder. Pondering is thought to be a luxury in our world. What we fail to realize is that pondering is a necessity. Scripture tells us that both Mary and Peter pondered the things of God. If we desire to have a close, personal relationship with our Maker, shouldn’t we take time to slow down, quiet our souls and ponder the things of God?
Spring is coming, and with it, new growth, time for reﬂection, and time to think about making changes. I would like to spend more of my God-given time pondering His Word. Will you join me?
This article was published in the Spring 2011 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine. Mary Ellen Hill Bryan is married to AC Bryan where they live in Texas.
To contact Mary Ellen, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Facebook.