Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke 2:41-46 (NRSV)
At one time or another, every parent has known the sheer terror of not being able to find a child. Whether it is only for a split second or for much longer, it is one of the worst feelings a parent can have. The six o’clock news scenes run through our heads, and then our imaginations turn to the “film at eleven” horror stories. The only thing we can think of is finding the child and getting him or her returned home safe. It would be hard to imagine the experience of losing track of God’s kid- for three whole days!
One has to wonder about Jesus’ earthly parents at times. Sometimes we don’t give them enough credit for having the awe-inspiring task of parenting the only Son of God. It’s daunting enough to be a parent to “normal” kids, let alone those parents of kids with special needs, or kids who are outside the “normal” box in other ways. It’s a wonder that God entrusts us with children at all.
Yet even though they lose track of Him, Jesus ends up showing His earthly parents His foundation. They find Him in the temple, in His true Father’s house, sharing and seeking wisdom.
Many times our temporarily missing children are winding their ways into mischief and distraction, and/or they inadvertently stumble into trouble, but there are times in which our children can lead us to greater wisdom as well. In Mary and Joseph’s case, it was the search for their son that led them back to the Father’s house.
Do we have an open mind and heart to seeking Jesus and His wisdom? While obedience and conformity can be the safe route, sometimes we lose sight of Jesus along the beaten path. Sometimes we need to wake up and take that side trip to really look for Jesus in the places where He will be found more deeply and profoundly. Where is He leading us? What wisdom will we find along His way?