“What happens when you get to a place where you aren’t so sure? About the nearness of God, the goodness of God, or anything God…”

The presence of God. “God is near!” Angels proclaim it. The Bible says it. People say it. God even has a name that means it. Emmanuel = God with us!

But what happens when you get to a place where you just aren’t so sure? About the nearness of God, the goodness of God, or anything God.

A place where more knowledge and more information won’t help. More activity and service won’t cut it.

I know. I got there.

Luckily I had 2 people join me in that space.

Picture this. 3 people. One table.

  • One angry person. Questioning everything. Frozen. Done.

  • One determined person - believing God can move in the midst of questions and the silence of God.

  • One searching person - searching for something “real” - beyond the right answers.

“Let’s just look at one word…”

That’s what we did. One word from a verse, a song, a need.

We simply began to define words. We built pictures and stories around them with other verses that used the word.

But information was not enough for any of us at this point. We had to stay in them. Remain connected.

So we asked the Spirit to keep talking. Keep helping. Keep comforting. Keep manifesting in these words.

We looked to creation, music, art… anything that would put meat around the words. We looked for physical signs of spiritual truths.

The words HAD to come off the pages - they had to be wrestled with and lived in! Spoken to each other and to God.

We saw the word of God & the Spirit of God continue moving throughout the hours, the days, the weeks. It could not be contained to the pages of our Bibles or our journals! We were experiencing the word “abide”…. to remain. Stay.

Ongoing conversation with God became easier. We knew how to pray for each other. It was simple. Pray the pictures that the scriptures drew around the words. Look for the presence of God in everything.

Words were given space… and the Spirit was asked to enter.

What happened next is hard to put into words. Ironic since this started with words.

A friend asked me to share what I was experiencing with the simplicity of the Word & Spirit. I hesitated. I was in a place of wrestling. Questioning. Pain. The other 2 around the table said, “Go.” So I did. I went to a college Young Life leadership meeting. We simply did what the 3 of us had done around the table. We looked at words. Defined them. Found stories and pictures in scripture that made them 3d. We discussed them. Wrestled with them. Sang them. And prayed them for each other.

We called it PONDER because that is one of the words I had been discovering around the table.


  • to keep turning over in your mind…

  • to discuss… to cast down and question.

Surprisingly, it was a moving, out-loud, communal word.

PONDER defined what we were experiencing. It seemed to be a fitting word to share with our new college friends!

And so it began. A movement of God that was not planned. There was no strategy meeting. No mission statement. This movement was, and is, being revealed one word at a time.

One conversation at a time. Person to person. From 3 to 1000s.

Easily experienced and easily spread -

People started using this simple method in their own lives, families, studies, classrooms, ministries and spaces. Ponder being used in spaces around the country and the world.


“The variety is beautiful & refreshing!”

Variety has defined Ponder. From church retreats where liturgy has come alive in new ways to backrooms of restaurants with women at risk. Women from every decade - from 20’s to 80’s gather together. Multi-generational is the norm for us. College guys meet with their small group and wrestle with words. Inner city girls meet before school in their classroom. People who have followed Jesus for decades and people who know nothing of Him. The diversity of age, race, gender, and economics have been refreshing!

Many of you have your own story. Some of you have been eyewitnesses with me. Ponder has guided us into first hand experience of the Word and the Spirit. Our stories are all unique but have one common thread. A change in how we interact with scripture and how we engage the presence of God on earth. He is near. His words are mysterious and powerful. His Spirit is ready to encourage and interact with us! The essence of God - the Spirit - left here on earth, so that we can know Him, abide with Him, talk to Him… and experience Him first hand.

And thus live the prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”!

Join us!

- Michelle Travis

The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped —
it requires an active participation
in following Jesus
as he leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory,
in circumstances that become clear
only in the hesitations and questionings,
In the pauses and reflections
where we engage in prayerful conversation
with one another and with him.
— Eugene Peterson