Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.
Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”
He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
When I was two or three I was a holy terror. Actually I was part of a dynamic duo of damage and curiosity. There are countless stories of my twin brother and I getting in to trouble. We once got caught eating the dog biscuits. There was the time we turned on the pump on a fire truck parked inside the fire station while we were on a tour and flooded the station. Then there are the countless trips to the ER and all the stitches, band aids, and pumping of stomachs.
My brother and I are living testaments to good luck, fortuitous being, and a sturdy constitution. But there is one story that is legend and lore in our family. It is retold every time we get together as a family. The time we got lost at the beach on a family camping trip.
We went to McGrath State Beach on a family outing on weekend. You have to book this campsite a year in advance. It is right there on the beach, along the Californian coastline. It is beautiful. You camp on one side of the highway and walk under a bridge to get to the ocean. To us kids it was paradise.
We got to the site early and set up camp. My dad put up the tent and mom set up the kitchen and snack dispensary. My brother and I wandered between them and the other extended family members as they set up shop are us. It was exciting and my brother and I got caught up in it all.
We wandered between our campsite and the campsites of our aunts and uncles for a couple of hours. That turned in to us wandering around to other sites and eventually it lead to us walking under the highway and to the beach.
We explored the sand, the crashing waves, and all of the people doing what people do at the beach. Meanwhile, our parents thought we were with a relative and did not really worry. They were busy with the campsite. As everyone finished putting their campsites together they all congregated at may parents site, which was acting mess hall. After a little while and the jokes started flowing and cans of oat soda were cracked someone asked where we where and as eyes widened and jaws dropped everyone realized that we were gone.
Lost children bring about panic in the best of conditions. This was the era of the Atlanta Children Murders. Missing children were assumed to be part of those tragic events. Our family frantically began searching for us. I am not sure how low they were searching but it seemed like forever.
My brother and I disagreed on going back. I was hungry and he was up for more excitement. I left him and walked back towards where I thought camp was. I was eventually picked up by a sheriff in a Ford Bronco. He took me back to our camp and reunited me with my family.
I was grilled about where we where and where I last saw my brother. I was scared and embarrassed and could not talk. I just wanted to eat. I was not aware of the severity of what was going on. Meanwhile, the search for us became a search for one. The lifeguards poked their necks out and gazed upon the surf, looking for a little boy. Strangers were questioned and the fading, worn pictures in my fathers wallet were shown to anyone that would stop.
There was a buzz building in the campground. Helicopters, boats, and a lot of people were running around. I hid in a tent worried that the police were going to come and take me to jail cause I left my brother.
I am not sure how long it was after we took off or how long it was that my brother was out there by himself. I do know that he was found safe and sound. He had wandered to another families cook out. When my brother was found he was laughing, smiling, and enjoying himself. He was sitting with the children of the family roasting hot dogs on a hanger with his mouth full of marshmallows. He had no idea that the world was looking for him.
Sometimes being lost is the best place to be. Being lost is particularly not bad if your having fun with a belly full of hot dogs. Being lost is horrible when you are afraid or the person looking for that which is lost.
So much is riding on being lost or helping others away from being lost. For many Christians being lost is the worst thing that one could ever encounter. For this faith perspective the opposite of being lost is being saved. Being saved is a safe safety from the separation of God. In many ways it is an assurance for God’s favor upon the saved individual.
In the hierarchy of faith being saved is the preferred position. Particularly when juxtaposed with being lost. Lost is a dirty word in this climate. Lost is what happens when you do not follow rules. Rules that construct laws. Laws that are prescribed in the Bible by God. If you do not follow the rules set out by God, then you will burn in hell for all of eternity.
Living a life as to never be lost is not optimal. Never being lost means you are always in control. And always being in control has the propensity to develop idols. Those idols then may cloud what is and what is not God. Sisters and brothers, there is only one certainty with God…That God is God and you are not.
Living a life as to not ever be lost prohibits you from exploring the beaches of life. Living a life that focuses upon being saved is just as dangerous. It is a task that robs fruit from the labors of being liberated in being lost. There is freedom in being lost.
Jesus was lost and discovered joy in the temple. There he encountered his “true self.” In being lost Jesus was found. In being lost through the panic he wandered the city. He explored the market. He watched the people as they lived around him. Then Jesus ends up at the temple. He puts a smile on his face and engages in his equivalent of hot dogs and marshmallows.
When his family discovers him, he is not afraid. He is not lost, he is has been found. Jesus has been liberated and has awakened to the reality of who he is and what it is he is to do on this earth. Jesus has in a very real way discovered his identity. And safely engaged in his identity he can run in to adventure, fear, and daring being secure that losing ones self is really finding ones self.
That is the beauty of the gospel. We are all lost. We are called to walk the path of Christ. Therefore, we are expected to be lost, to abandon the need for certainty. To relinquish control over this body, this life and give it as a sacrifice, a celebration to God. There is no set way to sacrifice or celebrate this mortal coil. There is no one-way to be lost. There is no one-way to be Christian. The map is fluid and ever changing. The deserts in which we wander, shift. The waters we navigate upon, ebb and flow, as time passes on. Concern yourself not with certainty but be liberated in the power, glory, and might of being lost in God.