Interestingly, the only Biblical account we have of the life of Jesus between His early childhood and adulthood was when He was twelve years old and His parents accidentally left Him behind in Jerusalem. You probably remember the story, recorded in the last part of Luke 2.
Joseph and Mary had gone up to Jerusalem with their family to celebrate Passover, which they did every year. On their long walk back home to Galilee–after a full day’s journey–they realized that the boy was not with them. I can imagine the conversation.
Mary: “Where’s Jesus?”
Joseph: “I thought He was with you.”
Mary: “No, I thought He was with you!”
Joseph: “No, remember, I said I would pack the donkey, and you were responsible for getting Jesus.”
Mary: “Uh oh.”
After three days–one coming, another going back, and one day searching–they found Jesus, where they had left Him, in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, “in His Father’s house.” There are several spiritual lessons here: don’t forget Jesus; when you go looking for Him, He’s right where you left Him; and He’s always about His Father’s business. But that’s not why I share this story.
It is because in that context, I don’t feel as bad admitting that one time, I left one of my children at a fast food restaurant. It wasn’t on purpose, though that’s something I considered more than once when they weren’t acting so nice. But it was more than a little embarrassing, to say the least, to have to go back to Hardee’s and face the manager who was trying to call me to tell me I had left my daughter behind.
I felt like a horrible parent, until I remembered I was in pretty good company–that Jesus’ parents did the same thing with Him. And He turned out all right.
There wasn’t much excuse in my situation. My wife was sick in bed when I came home from work. The kids needed dinner, and I was inept in the kitchen. So, I loaded them all up in the van to go grab something quick. The dinner itself was as uneventful as you would expect with a dad and six little kids. On the way out, I saw someone I knew. We talked, while the kids loaded into the van.
The conversation went long (as often happens with me) and one of the children realized she needed to go to the bathroom, and wandered back inside. Meanwhile, my conversation ended, I got in and started the engine, and drove off. We were gone about five minutes when the older sisters did a head count in the back of the van and reluctantly told me, “Dad, I think we forgot Rachel.”
Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll have one of the greatest privileges a father can have, in giving my daughter away in marriage. I’m proud to say that she turned out all right, too, in spite of my less-than-stellar parenting, on that night and on many other occasions. By His grace, God has a way of overcoming our “uh-oh’s” and blessing us in spite of our failures. And now it’s time for Rachel to move on, and to be about her Father’s business with her new husband Blake.
In light of the difficulties she has faced in the past month or so, it will be pretty special to walk her down that aisle. I’m thankful for all your prayers for Rachel, leading to this special day, and I hope each of you can join us for the wedding, Saturday at 2:30 at the Rosser Farm in Columbiana. All of the Shelby Crossings family is invited to the celebration.
And remember, never leave Jesus behind. Or, your kids either.
I’m grateful to be a part of such a wonderful church family, and I look forward to seeing each of you on Sunday, if not before.