Tuesday, August 11, 2015

losing jesus

A few summers ago, our family did a whirlwind four days at Disneyworld. Doing Disney with four children under seven means several things will happen.

First, it means there will be at least one miserable person in your party at all times. It may be the kid who is too small to ride Space Mountain. Or possibly the child lying on the filthy floor of a public bathroom because he is “starving” and “dying of thirst” twenty minutes after lunch. Often, the unhappy person is the pack-mule parent, lugging umbrellas, snacks, diaper bag, and three children’s backpacks. This beast of burden is also the same person who can’t believe the vast sum of money she paid in order to endure the sticky heat and the bad attitudes of four entitled and crabby children.

Second, it means lots of counting. “1,2,3,4 kids in line at Pirates of the Caribbean.” “1,2,3,4 children have exited the carousel.” “1,2,3,4 little people walking through Fantasyland.” “1,2,3...where is Finley??? Oh! I forgot. I’m holding her....” Everywhere you go, you count your children. Until you don’t. That’s when you lose one.

We lost two, actually. Technically, my husband lost them. (I was on a ride, so I can throw him under the bad parent bus and keep my stellar-parent girl scout badge.) Also technically, he didn’t lose them; they escaped. Two of the boys wandered out of a gift shop and then kept walking. They made their way from one souvenir cart to another, going farther and farther from him. They realized they were lost, thought about fixing that problem, and then decided they weren't lost at all when they found super duper pop guns out in the great wide open world of all things Disney. This joyous pop gun war went on for twenty minutes.

A very nervous Morgan frantically searched while forming an explanation of the loss of two children to me when I got off the ride. Any parent who has ever lost their child momentarily knows twenty minutes feels more like twenty hours. 

All was well in the end, but it made me wonder what it felt like for Jesus’ parents when they lost him for three days when he was twelve. It must have been horrific, because when they find him in Luke 2 Mary says, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 

Mary was good with the guilt. I appreciate her early example of how to lay it on thick in the Message version, where she tells Jesus they were “half out of their minds looking for him”, which captures the horror of not only losing your son, but also feeling like you’ve failed God in caring for the child He entrusted to you.

Poor Mary, she lost her cherished son and her calling all at once when she lost Jesus.

Jesus told her she should have known right where He was all the time. (Jesus was pretty cheeky. That's what comes of being an eternal member of the trinity while having completely mortal parents, I suppose.) Bottom line: Jesus wasn’t lost. He was shooting pop guns at the Temple like a champ.

Losing some things is harder than losing others. Keys aren't such a big deal. Wallets are a pain to lose. Lost wedding rings seem tragic. Our naivete is lost one bully, one bad word, one news clip, and one cruelty after another. Some lose their hope after too many unanswered prayers. Others lose their fear in one giant leap of faith. Our youth is left behind the same way my boys left my husband’s side: while we go about our business it wanders away, unseen. We lose our way, lose our words, lose our memories, lose our patience, and some days we may lose our minds.

But we can never really lose Jesus. That’s what Mary learned after she went crazy looking for her son for three days. It’s what the disciples learned after their broken hearts wandered aimlessly in shock for three days after the crucifixion. It is the lesson we all face eventually, standing in the dark, deciding Jesus is right where He is meant to be and we aren't as far from Him as we feel. And so we keep seeking Him, loving Him, learning to be faithful in His ways in the midst of the chaos.

We never know when or where we'll glimpse Him at last. But when we do, we realize that losing Jesus is always the beginning of everything we really want in life. It’s how we find our way home.

Most everything else just fills the time before we find Him, kind of like counting to four endlessly, or shooting a pop gun at your brother in the middle of Disneyworld.

So today, I'm over here counting heads and trusting Him. How about you? 

1, 2, 3, 4, Jesus.

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