Wednesday nights can be hectic! We rush home from work so we can rush to church. We enjoy our time there; it is loud and fun and worshipful! But dinner, education and worship is a lot to fit into 2 ½ hours. Then we rush home and get two tired kids to bed so we can attempt to pick up the house, wash some dishes or fold the laundry before we collapse into bed ourselves.
So, when worship ends each Wednesday night we have sincere intentions of departing quickly to get home and move on with our evening! But it never works that way – we always end up chatting with someone, or watching the kids play with their friends. It is an important part of our weekly routine, and I’m happy to set aside the nightly bedtime process so we can be present at church in worship and fellowship.
On one recent Wednesday night after worship, my husband and I gathered our things – including the 10 random pieces of paper the 3-year-old had colored during the service. We started to make our way towards the door. I look around – our 3-year-old is nowhere to be found! Okay. Slight annoyance sets in. She makes friends with everyone she meets. (See Serving with a Smile!) Who did she find to become her new best friend?!
My husband and I are both looking now, darting eyes through the quickly thinning crowd. Still no Lea. Where did she go?
I wander near the front door. No Lea. As the seconds pass by, I see the concern in my husband’s face and my sense of panic begins to rise. A hollow pit settles in my stomach. Did she run outside into the street? Did some stranger grab her? Where did she go?!?
We hurry back into the sanctuary. And there she is – towards the front of the room where we had started our search. She is sitting quietly on the bench next to our pianist – a dear family friend whom my sweet young daughter absolutely adores!
Instant peace; that knot in my stomach vanishes and a deep smile fills my face. I should have known! My daughter sought a person whom she trusts and loves, and was drawn in by the joyful music!
As I stood in the sanctuary and listened to the music, I remembered that story in the first part of the Gospel of Luke; one of the only stories of Jesus as a child. When Jesus is 12 years old, he stays behind in Jerusalem and enters into conversation with the teachers in the temple. His parents search for him with desperation! Days later, when they finally find their young son, they ask how he could do something to make them so worried.
And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49
We are nearing Christmas, so we hear the stories of Mary and Joseph and how they learned about who this tiny baby really was and what their role would be in His story. Even 12 years later they were still trying to figure it out – who is Jesus and what does his life mean for the world? If they could see the complete picture – if they knew the life lived so fully, the death and resurrection of Jesus – would they have raised him differently?
If I could see the whole picture of my life, and the role God envisions for me, would it change what I’m doing right now??
If I could see the picture painted for my two children, would it change how I parent them? If I had stepped back to consider the kind of person my daughter is and will become, would that piano bench be the first place I had looked when she was lost?
I don’t know the future. But unlike Mary and Joseph in that story from Luke, I know how the life of Jesus played out. I know the sacrifice He made. With that act of ultimate love as my past and my future, I don’t need to know the details to determine the right way to live today!
And no matter what future is ahead for my kids, we must raise them to be kind, compassionate, merciful and filled with love for all. Then I should always know where to find them – out in the world serving others, living in relationship and sharing good news!
(Though at this point I should also try to keep a closer eye on my wandering 3-year-old…)