Luke's Gospel tells us the story of when Mary and Joseph lost their son, Jesus:

Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover.  When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.  After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were 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 his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him, "Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you" (2:41-48).

Whenever I read this story, I'm surprised at how long Mary and Joseph failed to notice that Jesus wasn't with them.  How could they lose their 12-year-old son?  Were they bad parents?  Did they not care about Jesus?  We can reasonably presume that Mary and Joseph loved their son.  So what happened?  Perhaps in the rush and stress of organizing everyone to return home after the festival, Mary and Joseph took their eyes off Jesus.  They assumed He was in their company.  They had become complacent that Jesus would always be with them and had, for a while, stopped paying attention to His whereabouts.  It was only after a day that they actually took stock and realized Jesus was missing.  When they eventually found Him, Mary was clearly relieved, as well as pretty cross!

We can't be too harsh on Mary and Joseph.  The truth is that at times we can all get complacent in our relationship with Jesus.  Often I find myself rushing around from meeting to meeting.  It's only when I get to the end of the day that I look back and realize that I've failed to involve Jesus in all that I've done.  I haven't been mindful of Him, and I've assumed that I've been walking in His path.  I continue to do all the right things, but inwardly I'm not maintaining my relationship with my Savior.

Embracing the Place of Wonder

Recently on a trip to Canada I had the privilege of visiting Niagra Falls.  Standing before this sight I was amazed by the intensity and velocity of the waterfall.  Hour after hour, day after day, year after year, water never stops pouring down.  Incredibly, it is estimated that approximately 600,000 gallons of water flow over Niagra Falls every second.  As I beheld this awesome view, God spoke to me about His giving heart.  For too long I viewed God as well.  You dig deep for water, but eventually it dries up.  However, God reminded me that there is no end to His goodness, His mercy, His power.  The deeper we dig, the more we discover.  Like the torrents of water that keep on flowing over Niagra Falls, God's heart keeps on giving to His children.  He is the giver of living water, and those who drink this water will never thirst again (see John 4:10-14).

As worshippers of Jesus, we therefore need to find oases to refresh our souls.  We need to keep looking at the big picture.  We need revelation.  Sometimes when we've lost that soul-refreshing view, the first step to recapturing it is to become desperate.  That's exactly what happened when Mary and Joseph realized Jesus was missing – they became desperate.  They were "anxiously searching" (Luke 2:48) for Him.  When we read this, it can seem quite understated.  I get anxious when I watch England play soccer or when I visit the dentist.  In the end, however, it's not such a big deal.  In the biblical context, the Greek word used in Luke 2:48 for "anxious" can also be translated "to be in agony" or "to grieve."3  Jesus' parents were deeply distressed at losing Him.  They realized how important He was to them and kept looking until they eventually found Him.  When we feel that we're in a dry place, that the fire in our hearts is all but embers, then it's time to get desperate.  It's time to start seeking with all that we have, until we find our lost passion.  The cry of our hearts has to be "There must be more!"