Years ago, when the kids were small, Sunday mornings became something of a well-orchestrated exercise. It took two vehicles to get five people to church. I left early with my young daughter to set up for my Sunday school class, and my husband trailed a few minutes behind with the boys. After the service, we usually left in reverse order.
Following one Sunday morning service, I stayed behind arranging my classroom for something later in the week. My husband informed me he was going to take the kids home. I packed up my things only a minute or two behind my husband and headed for the house. Pulling in behind him in the driveway, I noticed the boys already playing with the dog but did not see our five-year-old daughter. My husband walked toward me with a jokey smirk on his face, while I sported the same.
"Where's Kaci?" he teasingly asked.
Thinking she had ducked down in the seat of his pickup, I answered, "Well ... I don't know? Where is Kaci?"
We exchanged this playful banter for only a couple more rounds, until it suddenly turned more somber.
"Seriously, where is Kaci?" we both anxiously inquired.
Immediately, I was sick to my stomach, realizing what we had done. My husband thought she had stayed with me; I thought she had gone with him. I raced back down to the church, expecting to find her little face and hands plastered to the glass of the front door of a locked church, screaming. Instead, she was calmly helping a dear woman empty the communion trays, but I still felt like we were the world's worst parents.
I wonder if that is how Jesus' parents felt when they learned they had left Jesus behind in Jerusalem
Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it (Luke 2:41-43)Most likely, in the bustle of the feast and the crowd of people, they assumed Jesus surely was with someone in the large traveling group.
It would be three days before they reunited with Jesus; it was only three minutes before I found my daughter. They found Jesus in the temple speaking with the elders and teachers; I found my daughter in the kitchen sipping down surplus communion cups.
Have you ever wondered how Mary and Joseph could have possibly left Jesus, the Son of God, behind? How could they have traveled for so long before missing Him, but do we not do that ourselves? How often have we become so engrossed in the acceleration of our hectic lives that we really had not thought that much about Jesus for several days? It is easy to forego personal Bible study or Scripture reading because of a busy schedule, assuring ourselves that we will get back on track as soon as things settle down.
Perhaps we temporarily neglect our calling and leave the responsibility of keeping track of Jesus to a spouse or Sunday school teacher, assuming He surely is with him or her. Eventually, almost without notice, we lose focus and fear takes over. Finally, in a moment of chaos and panic, we recognize that we have walked away from Jesus.
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us" (Hebrews 12:1).
"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).Praise God, Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, even when we walk away from Him.
He longs for fellowship with us every day, not just on Sundays or holidays. When Christ is our focus, He blesses us with the peace that surpasses all understanding.
"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you" (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).Father, You are so holy. Worthy are You, Lord, of all glory, honor, power, and praise. Thank you for the strength and encouragement we receive from those who bear witness to Your goodness and mercy. Forgive us for taking our eyes off You for even a moment. Keep us in perfect peace as we set our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith. In Jesus' name, amen.