Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:41–52 NIV)

When you were young, were you ever separated from your parent or loved one? Lost in some way? You turned one way and when you turned back no one you knew was there. At first, your senses are alerted – where are they?! Next, if you can’t spot them quickly, panic starts to set in. Your emotions begin to take over, and fear and vulnerability become your dominant experience. You begin to look frantically for your loved one. Even as an adult, there is a visceral panic you can probably still feel from times you had been lost as a child. It is disorienting not to know what to do next. We call out, hoping someone will hear us. Maybe in that experience some kind guide helped you find your way back – or even helped your parent find you. Maybe your loved one heard your voice and came running to find you, crisis averted.

In this account of Jesus in Luke 2:41–52, we don’t find him experiencing any of those panicked emotions. He’s been without his parents for three days, and rather than frantic, we find him at peace, settled in the presence of his heavenly Father in the temple. Learning, soaking, confident in God’s care. The only people experiencing fear were his parents, which, as a parent, I do think is understandable!

We would do well to examine Jesus’ peacefulness in this passage; he demonstrates a steadiness we often lack in pressured situations where we are under threat or feel our vulnerability, our “lost-ness.” Jesus anchors himself in God’s truth and in the presence of Scriptural teachers. Too often you and I are directed in anxious ways by others when what we need most is to rest in what the Father tells us matters, finding peace and leadership in his Word, with wise instruction accompanying it. Young Jesus felt completely safe under God’s care. He was not flustered by the absence of his parents. He seemed surprised they wouldn’t know exactly where they could find him. He put himself in the presence of God’s Word as the truth that mattered. He tells Mary and Joseph he “had” to be with his Father. It was the only logical place to find him.

Where do you “have to be” when you are lost or disoriented? Where would others expect to find you? What practices orient you back to yourself and to the Father again? He is inviting you there again today to find his peace that surpasses all understanding. How beautiful is the reminder that when you were lost, God found you! As you spend time with him today, recount the peace he has given to you in the past. It’s powerful that we never have to frantically search for him because he dwells with us at all times. Peace comes because we are confident in our Father’s knowledge of where we are, what he’s done, and what he’s capable of. We have the opportunity to be confident in our relationship in him and in his care for us. Rest in his peace today, friends. You are not lost to him.

Christine Okken is the executive assistant to Dr. Harry Kelm.