Have you experienced that embarrassing moment while you are walking and talking with a friend, that you suddenly realize that they are not next you?
The amused stares of those around make you feel sheepish and you don't even have ear buds in that would cause others to think you are talking on the phone!
I think we have all experienced this at some point in our lives. We became so engrossed in what we were doing, what we were saying...that we became unaware that our company was not longer with us!
Mary and Joseph turned around in Luke 2:41-52 and realized that Jesus was no longer with them.
How in the world can you lose track of the Son of God?
Well, I'll give them this...Jerusalem had been crowded and filled with excitement. Mary and Joseph, Jesus, family, friends and lots and lots of other people had journeyed to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. There is something about being in the pack...deep in the thick of the crowd...to cause you to lose track of what you are doing!
"When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they're unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at this understanding and his answers. "
"according to the custom"
Mary and Joseph were used to this routine: they travelled to Jerusalem, they worshiped and they come home.
Year after year.
It's what they did.
I am a creature of routines. I operate best in a structured environment- God has created me this way.
Here's the challenge however:
I can become so focused on "according to the custom"...focused on "how I have always done it"...that
I miss when God changes it up a bit.
In Galatians 5:25 we read,
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
In step with the Spirit means that I am following His lead, going where He is going. It is so easy for me to become comfortable in my routines that I miss His still small voice as He whispers that He is going in a new direction.
I am focused on the crowds, lost in my own thoughts, serving in ministry the same way I always have...that I don't realize that He is not with me.
Where did He go?
"Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day."
Mary and Joseph had traveled a whole day before they realized that Jesus was not with them.
They made assumptions. Surely He is traveling with us.
They searched among their family and friends for him...but did not find him.
It is easy for us to make assumptions. God has lead me here in the past, He has blessed it before...therefore I will invest my time, resources and energy in this ministry again. I am assuming that He will bless what I endeavor to do. Time goes by (maybe it's a few days, weeks or even months) and I find that I am experiencing more obstacles than ever before.
Why am I encountering so many roadblocks? Where has my peace gone? Why is the excitement I used to experience replaced with feeling overwhelmed and frustrated? Why do the people I serve alongside with, annoy me? That has never happened before? I don't get it.
He is not there. Jesus' steps turned in a different direction somewhere back there and I missed it. I kept walking in my customary routine, busy talking, busy planning and following the crowd.
I too am capable of losing track the Son of God.
"When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him."
Mary and Joseph returned to the last place they had seen Jesus.
It may have taken them another three days to locate their son, but they were at least headed in the right direction.
Jesus' steps had taken a different course. He was exactly where His Father had wanted Him to be...amazing the teachers of the law with His wisdom.
Have you turned around...and discovered He wasn't there?
Here is a suggested way to pray to stay in step...
I love the abundant life you have blessed me with. I love the friends, the opportunities to serve and the full plate of activities that I really do enjoy. I acknowledge to you, Father, that it is so easy for me to keep walking with the crowd and miss that your steps have gone a new direction. I commit, this new day, to live by Your Spirit and stay in step with You. "
If you are finding yourself, turning around, and realizing that He is not there in the midst of what you are doing...
pray this way:
Somewhere along this path I missed your still small voice tell me that You were changing direction. I ask for your forgiveness for prioritizing my focus on someone/something other than you. I am going to return to the place where I last really experienced the blessing of your presence. I will quiet my heart, still my thoughts and get alone with you. Speak to me Father, through your Holy Spirit and your Word. I am listening. "