Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lost Child?

Luke 2:49 He said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
It was either Thanksgiving or Easter, although I can't recall for certain which, about 8 years ago. We were celebrating the holiday as we usually did at my in-laws. We lived only a block from their home. We still do... just in a different house now. Being so close to them makes holidays very easy for us. If my husband is ill, or if the kids, when they were younger, needed naps, we could just run home for a bit.

This is what happened that day. My husband was feeling sick so he had gone home. My youngest, only a year and a half old or so at the time, was in dire need of a nap. So, I brought him home to his dad. After making sure the two of them were settled in, I went back to the festivities. After a couple hours, I decided to go back home to check on them. My husband was sound asleep on the couch. And my son... was missing.

I ran through the house, calling his name, checking in every room, under every bed. If you've ever lost a child, you know the panic that goes through your entire soul. I woke up my husband frantically, then continued on in my search. I finally noticed our back door was slightly open. My heart stopped. My baby had gotten outside. Granted, this is a small town, if anyone had found him they would know who he belonged to. But at that heart-stopping moment, I didn't think of this. Every horrible possibility went through my mind in the blink of an eye.

Finally I saw the flash of gray camouflage - the t-shirt he'd been wearing - in a yard a couple houses away. I screamed his name, running towards him as he stopped and put his arms out to me. I was relieved, and furious, and everything else imaginable. He started crying as I wrapped him in my arms, my own tears falling as I scolded him for leaving the house.

In his broken speech, he let me know that he'd  been trying to go back to Grandma's... he'd been trying to find me.

In Luke 2:41-49, we find Jesus' parents in a similar situation. Jesus had gone missing. Of course, he was 12, not under 2, but the feeling his parents went through, I'm certain was no different than those I experienced. After searching for him, they finally found him in a temple. His mother scolded him... "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety."

His response to her was  "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

There is such an innocence that can be found in that response... a simple logic that can only come from a child. In both my own experience, and in this scripture, the children couldn't understand the parents' reaction - after all, in my son's case - he was trying to find his mom; and in Jesus' case - he went to his Father's house.

Of course, in those days, a 12 year old boy was almost a man. He was maturing, and understanding more of what was expected of him. And in Jesus' case, he was beginning to understand his purpose. He understood that while Joseph was his earthly father, God was his father. And to learn what it was he was doing - that he was sitting with teachers, learning and asking questions - this shows a wisdom I don't think any of us would ever expect or see in our own 12 year old children.

You see two parents who are quite normal - even to the point of freaking out when their child goes missing. But then you see a 12 year old Jesus who is showing he is not normal. Or at least, not normal in the eyes of his parents and the temple teachers.

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If you think about this story metaphorically...(or perhaps as it's intended... what do I know)...

As parents, we see our children's paths a certain way. We believe they will follow us, or at least follow where we want them to go. However, as most parents have come to find, this is often not the case. Children have their own path. They find their own path home. But, like most of us, this path to their own true home is what they're seeking, and the road they're taking. We can either nurture that, or fight it... but, I've come to learn that fighting it doesn't work all that well.


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