46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.48 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.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[f] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Have you ever thought about how many years Jesus spent waking and sleeping, eating, talking, learning, and going to work, before his public ministry began? Spending over thirty years in preparation for three years of ministry doesn't seem very efficient, particularly when he showed so much promise already at the age of 12. That seems to be precisely the point. God is not preoccupied with the attainment of goals by finding the shortest distance between two points. In fact, we have every indication that the process itself is of great value to God. Throughout the narrative of the Bible he chooses a person (think also Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David to name a few), reveals his will to them and then sends them on a winding path that most often lasts for many years before they finally see the fulfillment of His words to them. This path becomes a crucible where through adversity and patience God endows them with the necessary interior life and character to hold the blessing, authority, and responsibility he will one day give them. The task in front of Jesus, to become "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" was so great that the process leading up to his death and resurrection had to be equal to the outcome.
What process is God using in your life to prepare you for the completion of His will in you and through you?
Lord, we confess that we often seek your will so that we can move things along more quickly, leaving you behind in the attainment of your will. We confess our short-sightedness and inability to see the value in the journey for our obsession with the destination. Help us to value the meandering paths you send us on to teach us humility and patience. Grow in us the ability to value the present moment and not merely the future achievement of a goal.