Toby S. Morgan is the administrative bishop of Virginia and a graduate of Pentecostal Theological Seminary.
But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them (Luke 2:50 NKJV).
Mary and Joseph seemed to have lost their edge. Perhaps they had settled into a routine of life that dulled the amazing circumstances surrounding his birth. Time and distance have that effect upon us. We may have memories of events, but the greater the distance between us and those events, the more we must struggle to recapture the feelings of that moment. Who knows what happened to this amazing couple? How could they, with the Son of God permanently attached to their home, reach a place in life where the glory and mystery of his presence was lost in the shuffle of life.
Perhaps the regularity of life had replaced amazement at his birth. After all, about twelve years had passed since angels invaded their space. More than a decade had passed since Wise Men lavished them with gifts and Spirit-driven old people had met them and prophesied over their lives. They had lived through over a decade of making chairs, tables, and doors. Twelve years of taking care of him, and other kids who came along, had left their mark. Almost five thousand days of living life under harsh conditions of Roman occupation had crawled by. In other words, life happened.
Perhaps the routines developed had made his presence, well, normal. I do not believe the extra-biblical stories about Jesus stretching a board Joseph mistakenly sawed too short, or of Him making clay birds, throwing them into the air, and commanding them to come to life. Instead, I am confident Jesus, along with Joseph and Mary, and the other siblings, had routines they followed every day. Jesus was part of the household and had his assigned routines. The routines had become nothing more than the boring ebb and flow of normal life.
Tyler Staton has written, "The real fight of faith comes on all the ordinary days after the climactic moment because of what we all know but are too polite to come right out and admit: fidelity is boring" (Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools, 2022).
The truth about life in ministry is that it is easy to lose your edge in the Kingdom because nobody is going to praise you for simple acts of obedience. For example, praying for the salvation of lost people is slow, laborious, and usually unheralded. When someone does come to Christ, we typically heap praise on the evangelist who preached or had an altar call, or led them to Jesus. While being the focus of our attention and praise, they probably had little to do with the salvation of that person. Instead, that individual who remained faithful in prayer, even when it was boring and seemed to be accomplishing nothing, was probably far more influential in someone being redeemed than the individual who reaped the fruit of another’s labor (1 Corinthians 3:5-8).
While the holy couple seemed to have lost some of their edge at this moment, there is, however, something vitally important those of us who feel ensnared in the mundane engagements of life in ministry can take from their quandary. Repeated acts of surrender to God, even when they seem contrary to what we think is best, will combine over time to create a life usable in God’s Kingdom. Listen to how this story about Jesus ends.
Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart (Luke 2:51 NKJV).
After this, He disappears. He goes underground for some eighteen years. Yet we gather from the statement of Luke He committed himself to repeated surrender, even when it might have appeared to Him to have a better way. From that season of surrender arose the Son of God.
I find three challenges. First, do not allow regular life to steal your wonder. As I write these words the holiday season is upon us. This is an interval of amazing things, stupendous things. Life goes on, but this story is still stupefying.
Second, do not allow the routines of life to stop your obedience. Keep doing what people of God do, even when no one notices. Remember, a far better record, and reward system, is being kept in eternity.
Finally, do not allow the dullness of repetition to stall your growth. It may seem as if nothing is happening in your life and ministry. In fact, you may feel you are losing ground. If that describes your sentiment, remember submission to God, following His commands, even when they appear burdensome, is producing in you a life which is, and will be in an even greater fashion, useful in the Kingdom. Jesus, as Luke noted, spent almost two decades in obscurity, honing his edge before the Father, living through life’s routines. He later emerged and life would never be the same. Keep your edge before the Father. He has a plan for you in His Kingdom.