Friday, December 28, 2018

When Amnesia Hits

[God moved me again this morning by His grace. This is what I journaled from my quiet time with God today.]

Look: “‘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.” (Luke 2:49-50)

I’ve always been struck by this incident and these words from it. Today, God has shown me exactly why it so strikes me.

The incident happens at the end of a family trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem and back for a festival. Mary and Joseph “lose” Jesus and search for Him frantically back in Jerusalem for three days. In the gospel of Luke, whenever people go “seeking” or “searching” for things, it’s trouble, even if they’re seeking God. We can’t find God, according to Luke: God finds us. (Jesus’ parables in Luke 15 pound this point home.)

Mary and Joseph finally “find” Jesus, Who was never lost, in what was apparently the last place they would have expected to find Him, in His Father’s house. It was Mary and Joseph who were lost. Jesus was reliably where I can always be found, with the Father, which is part of the reason He teaches us to pray in His name: Where Jesus is, there is God the Father.

Listen: What’s striking about this incident to me is that Mary and Joseph know Who Jesus is, the Messiah. But in the twelve years since Jesus’ birth, they’ve developed a kind of amnesia. They love the boy. He’s part of the family. Because of the redundancy of daily routine, they’ve effectively pushed all the unpleasant stuff associated with Jesus being the Messiah out of their minds. (Simeon, when Jesus was eight days old, warned Mary that the Babe in her arms would be “a sign that will be spoken against...And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” [Luke 2:34-35])

I know that I too can suffer from spiritual amnesia. I forget all that God has done for me, that Christ died for me, that my sins were part of why He, though sinless, had to go to the cross.

I cheapen His grace, turning God’s favor to me into an obligation God has toward me, rather than the undeserved gift that it is.

I forget the call to take up my cross--to acknowledge my sins--and follow Him, not the thing that I think is a good idea.

I forget that Jesus is my Lord, not my Aladdin.

And sometimes I forget that in Christ, I am forgiven, made new, accepted by God. At a subconscious level then, I begin to think that it doesn’t matter what I do, that nothing that I do matters.

These are all symptoms of my spiritual amnesia.

Respond: God, thank You for once more today finding me, just as I am. Forgive the amnesia that leads me to frenzy: fearing I’ve lost You, fearing You’ve lost me, fearing that I’m too lost to be found, or trying to prove myself simply because I’ve clean forgotten You.

Because I am baptized, You are always with me.

In Your Word and in the sacraments, You are always with me.

As I claim my inheritance as Your child, as I pray in Jesus’ name, as I read Your Word, and as I fellowship with other believers this day, help me to remember Who my Savior is and rest easy in Him as I work, play, and live.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

[I'm the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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