Finding God When We Lose Him

Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger. We usually only think of this Scripture in reference to Christmas, but it should be our everyday expectation. Why do we get so caught up in our everyday lives that we don’t find Him? How kind God is that he showed us this great love and grace by showing the way to Jesus with such a magnificent angelic display.

Sometimes we may wonder why angels aren’t appearing to us and telling us where we can find God. But God already showed up for all believers. Even still, we need a star, flashing lights, and blinking neon signs to show us the way when we’ve lost God.

Mary found herself in a situation where she had lost Jesus when he was twelve years old. Mary and Joseph had traveled with Jesus to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. Since His birth, Jesus had grown strong in body, wise in spirit, and the grace of God was on Him (Luke 2:40).  As the Feast ended and Mary and Joseph began the journey home, they didn’t realize that Jesus had stayed behind in the temple in Jerusalem.

As the caravan home was well underway and Mary suddenly came to the realization that Jesus was not with them, panic set in. Anyone who has ever lost a child can relate with this feeling of anxiety and helplessness. You go over in your mind the last place you saw your child. You rehearse everything that was said for clues to their whereabouts. You riddle yourself with grief over the “what ifs” of the situation.

Mary and Joseph felt a similar panic when they realized Jesus was not with them. We can imagine Mary frantically going from caravan to caravan asking, “Have you seen my son? He is about this tall and only twelve years old. Please, can you help me? Where is my son?”

Thinking he was somewhere in the company of pilgrims, they journeyed for a whole day and then began looking for him among relatives and neighbors. When they didn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for him. (Luke 2:45)

When all else failed, they went back to the last place they saw Him.

How do we find Jesus when we’ve lost Him? We go back to the place where we last encountered Him. We have to remember that He never left us. We left Him. We moved on to the next thing without Him. If we are not in constant companionship with Him, it is so, so easy to do. We get carried away by our schedule and our timeline. We have to get back to Nazareth! We keep moving on in our own strength. When we finally realize that Jesus is not with us, we panic. Where did He go?

In our story in Luke 2, Mary tried everything outside of herself to find Jesus. She asked everyone around her for answers. Does that sound at all familiar?

When we feel that we’ve lost Jesus, do we truly seek Him? Or do we tend to consult the latest book or our friends, relatives, neighbors, or the latest podcast? We desperately ask, “Have you encountered Jesus? Where did you find Him?” It seems like the right way because it is our natural instinct to seek the help of others. Mary and Joseph did the exact same thing when they lost Jesus. Finally, they went to the temple in Jerusalem.

The next day they found him in the Temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers. But his parents were not impressed; they were upset and hurt. (Luke 2:46) 

They found Him, but they were not amused.

Mary and Joseph simply could not understand why Jesus had worried them so by staying in the temple. Didn’t he know how worried they were? The Message translation says that they were “half out of their minds” looking for him  in Luke 2:48. Jesus calmly responded, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?”

They had no idea what he was talking about.

But it was so simple. As the Son of God, it really could not have been more clear. He was in the temple, His Father’s house. He was dealing with the things of His Father. Where else would He be? Why were you looking for me out there?

Why do we look at so many things outside of ourselves when He is right where He should be…in the temple. Our temple. And He is dealing with the things of the Father. He is interceding for us on our behalf.

When we’ve lost Him, we’ve never really lost Him. We have just forgotten where He resides. We need to stop looking outside of ourselves, like Mary did, and go back to the last place we encountered him. The last place that we felt His presence and knew that He was near was not when we were listening to a podcast or reading a spiritual development book, though those can be excellent tools for growth.

No, when we are lost and looking for Jesus, we simply need to seek Him in His temple.

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Instead of rushing around and looking for Him outside of ourselves, we need to still our minds and our hearts long enough to hear His voice. He is always right there, waiting for us to seek Him. He longs for us to find Him.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

When we feel lost and alone, we are never really alone. We have just wandered too far outside ourselves. We need to get back to being centered with God.

The story of Mary and Joseph finding Jesus ends with him returning with them to Nazareth and living obediently with them and growing in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.

His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. (Luke 2:51-52)

In order to keep Jesus close and never lose sight of Him, we need to follow Mary’s example of holding these things dearly, deep within ourselves. If we value the relationship with our Savior and want to keep Him close, we must remember where he resides. We must fight the urge to constantly look outside of ourselves when we’re lost. We must keep ourselves centered on the One who never changes. And we must earnestly seek Him alone.

Chances are we will never be the beneficiaries of a grand angelic display that leads us to our Savior. But we can hold the truth about Him dearly, deep within ourselves, so that we never truly lose Him again.

Seek and you will find. Be still and know that I am God.