We had a big day recently as Christian Writers. Once a year we seek to gather from South Wales for a time of mutual encouragement. We met in Hope Chapel, and after much inspiration, exhortation and encouragement, now it was our turn to do some writing.
As part of Teresa’s workshop, we had read together the biblical account of how Mary and Joseph, having accompanied the twelve year old Jesus to Jerusalem, made the terrible discovery that he was no longer with them. Now we were asked to write of their thoughts and feelings as they returned to the city to look for him.
Why did I have this strong desire to fast forward to further along in the story? It was not difficult to enter into the heart of Mary as, robbed of a night’s rest, they trailed wearily back to the city, and so I joined the others in writing of the pain and concern of these parents.
But now I have opportunity to write of this strong memory which had been replaying in my heart.
I was the preacher for a small congregation. Among the children gathered in the front I was especially conscious of two lads, knowing they had been persuaded by their single Dad to come with the promise that they would enjoy Auntie Pauline.
I am not sure what lesson I had planned to bring, but I know that it was God who had led us to further on in this story where, in the courts of the Temple, Mary and Joseph had at last found their missing son.
Jesus must have been feeling so fulfilled as he had listened to these learned teachers. He had so many questions he wanted answered, and must have been so sure that this was God’s purpose for him; that now was the time for him to fulfil his calling, beginning as a student here in the Temple. He was twelve years old and so now counted as a man under the law. But suddenly his parents had appeared, distressed after their long search and insisting that he must still remain under their care.
‘Honour your father and your mother.’ These are the words he would have recited since he was a little boy, and now they were challenging him.
The Bible doesn’t describe the turmoil of his heart. We only know that his own Father God gave him grace to accept that this was what he must do. He must honour his father and mother and return with them to their home in Nazareth.
I was able to explain to those two boys how hard it must have been for Jesus to keep this commandment, and that when it is hard for them to listen and be obedient to their Dad that Jesus understands because it was hard for him too.
What a wonderful Saviour we have, who enters into all our experiences, and what a wonderful book is the Bible, so that we are not only able to read these stories as history, but to enter into them, walking with the characters and learning the lessons they themselves had to learn.
And for us who feel God’s call to write, may we always meet with God as we read again his wonderful word, and then be ready to share what God has been speaking or doing in our lives as we seek his path of discipleship.