It was January of 1995. I had had an incredible weekend retreat with Jesus. As I awoke that following Monday morning the story of Jesus at twelve in the temple (Luke 2:41-50) was in my thoughts. As I focused on it, the Lord impressed me with the following, knowing that I would long for this closeness I had experienced with Him to continue.
(v. 42) There were Mary and Joseph. The feast of Passover had been even more special this year as Jesus was there with them in their celebration. It was a special time--a joyful remembrance of God's deliverance. A joyful time in Jesus' presence--that's what my weekend had been.
(v. 43) So the Feast ended and they turned their thoughts and feet toward home. But Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. And they were unaware of His absence. Was I also going to turn my attention to "home" now that it was Monday? Would my thoughts go first to the laundry, cleaning, Bible study homework, etc., to the extent that I would not even be aware that Jesus had stayed behind? Yes, I pondered, it is true that He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5b)--His relationship with Mary and Joseph had not changed--but His presence? Yes, I knew from experience it was possible to miss His very present presence.
(v. 44) They went on like this for a day. Then they realized. Yes, it has happened to me--so immersed in the cares of living that a day, even more, can pass by and then, sometimes with a jolt, sometimes gradually, I realize that that sweet fellowship with Jesus is missing.
I see them in my mind's eye:
"Joseph! Where's Jesus?"
"I don't know! I thought...Jesus! Where could He be?"
Immediately they began looking, searching for Him. They ran to their friends in the group of travelers, to their relatives. And where do I run when I miss His presence? My friends, my dear sisters in the faith, seem a logical place to go in my search. I also have other "friends": Christian books and tapes, sermon notes, maybe a favorite radio program. I'll look there.
(v. 45) But they did not find him. And neither will I find Him there. Oh, maybe I'll be blessed and feel better. Maybe I'll get some useful instruction. But I'm looking for Jesus.
(v. 45) So they went back to Jerusalem and for three days they looked for Him. They were desperate. How could life go on without Jesus? They had to find Him. Had to. Do I realize the urgency in my own life? Do I realize life cannot go on for me until Jesus' presence is here? Will I give up the search or will I seek until I find? I have to find.
(v. 46) The Temple. He was found in the Temple.
Well, I can't go to the Temple anymore now, can I?
He said, "Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's House?"
"My Father's house." ... What was it that Jesus had forcefully instructed those in the Temple when He had cleared it? "My house will be called a house of prayer..." (Mark 11:17).
That's it. I will find Jesus, His presence, His fellowship, in prayer with Him. That is where He is! (Later I remembered that God says we are now the temple of God--that He lives within our hearts and will be found there [I Corinthians 3:16].)
(v. 50) But they did not understand what He was saying to them.
Will I understand? Will I go to prayer trusting that He is there?
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