Have you ever noticed as you read the chapters of the Gospels, that often Jesus wasn’t where He was expected to be?
It started in the stable—the last place anyone would expect a King to be born. And then, when He was a child, His parents lost track of Him. They sought Him among other family members—but instead they found Him teaching at the synagogue.
Later the disciples thought He’d be on deck to help navigate the storm—but they found Him in the stern, asleep on a cushion. And another time when they were out at sea and He was still on the shore, He suddenly just showed up, walking on the water toward them. The disciples thought he’d be teaching the crowds, but he was sitting with the children. The religious leaders thought he’d be in the holy places, but he was dining with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners. Mary and Martha thought Jesus would hurry to be beside their ailing brother, Lazareth, but He tarried.
Other women, who came to prepare their Lord’s body for burial, expected the crucified One to be in the tomb, but they were rerouted: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:5-6 ESV) And finally, as the men of Galilee stood watching the Christ being taken up in the clouds, the angels explained that the Son of God was not in the heavens, but was in Heaven.
I have likewise noticed that as the chapters of my own life are written, Jesus’ presence is often not apparent at the place nor in the moment where and when I am desperately wishing to see Him. Sometimes I find myself trying to wake Him up, saying, “Don’t you care that we are drowning?” I cry out, “if you had just been here, this horrible thing wouldn’t have happened.”
But other times, amid the prayers of two or three gathered to intercede for Douglas, there is Jesus among us, gently interceding. At the courthouse surrounded by criminals and drug addicts, there is Christ proclaiming His mercy through the lenient sentencing of the judge. Through the wise counsel of a compassionate therapist, His voice quietly stills the rage in Douglas’ mind.
Thus is the daily reality of walking by faith and not by sight. Faith inspires me to seek Him through a lens that always finds Jesus exactly where He is supposed to be, doing exactly what He is supposed to be doing, at the exact right time, to accomplish the Father’s good will for Douglas … and for me.