Monday, December 7, 2009

Looking for Jesus (by Billy Coffey)


The thing about living at the foot of a mountain is that it’s often windy. Sometimes it’s little more than a gentle breeze that will tousle your hair. Other times it’s enough to make you pull your ball cap down a little tighter. And then there are the winds that don’t simply blow but rage. Like the ones last Wednesday.

I was outside the next morning surveying the damage, which wasn’t all together bad. The only things out of place were a few of the Christmas decorations—two bows that had found their way into the rose bushes, a strand of lights that had been blown from the tree, and a toppled Nativity scene.

The bows and lights were simple enough, though I had to impale my thumb on a thorn and smack myself in the face with a tree branch in order to set aright what the wind had blown askew. Mary, Joseph, a wise man, and a shepherd had dog piled the holy child to shield him from harm.

I stood the shepherd up first, brushing away a few leaves and a clump of mud. Then the wise man, then Joseph, and finally Mary. Then I stooped down to brush off little Emmanuel.

Halfway into my crouch, I stopped. In a strange act of contortion I didn’t believe was possible, I both furrowed my brow and bulged my eyes at the sight before me. Because there, right there where the swaddled babe was supposed to be, was nothing.

The rusty gears in my head began to lurch and churn, the results of which seemed to be subtle variations of one question—And what’s that mean?

And what’s that mean? The dog pile didn’t work.

And what’s that mean? My Baby Jesus is gone.

And what’s that mean? Uh-oh.

I stood up and looked around. Nothing. Looked under the truck and around the corner of the house and in the neighbor’s yard and by the creek. Nothing.

A chill ran down my spine that could have either been panic or the last remnants of the cold December wind the night before. How could we have Christmas without the Baby Jesus? What now?

I entertained a brief thought that I should call in and take the day off (“Jesus is MISSING!” I would say). But I didn’t. I wasn’t worried. After all, I’d found the real one. Surely I could find a plastic one, too.

Surely. Maybe. Well, hopefully.

I didn’t get much done that day; I was paid more for eight hours of worry and dread than actual work. My children were ignorant of the situation for obvious reasons. A missing Baby Jesus would bring the sort of panic that children display in tears and snot. Which meant I would have to find him before they knew he was missing.

I went home that afternoon and searched the entire neighborhood. I knocked on doors (“Have you found Jesus?” I asked, and received many wonderful answers. And one that was not so wonderful). I made phone calls. I drove, and when that didn’t work I walked. I even resorted to calling out His name—“Jesus?” “JESUS??”

Still? Nothing.

I had given up and begun preparing my failed-father speech to the family when I spotted a hunk of plastic beneath an evergreen tree. I’d be lying if I said there was a golden ray of light shining down upon it, but it sure felt that way. I sprinted over to the tree, pulled back a dangling branch, and lo and behold, there he lay in peaceful plastic slumber.

My Baby Jesus is back where he belongs now, safely tucked just under the living room window with ma and pa watching over him. And also two carefully placed stakes holding him in place.

I just checked on him. Still there. But a thought came to my mind as I peered through the curtains—shouldn’t I be more mindful of where the real Jesus is than my plastic one? Shouldn’t I make sure that He, too, is right beside me? And in those times when I find He isn’t, shouldn’t I go looking for Him with the same sense of purpose and urgency that I did with a simple Christmas decoration?

Yes, I think. Very much so.

Because the winds rage not just outside my window, but inside my heart, too. They howl doubt and blow jealousy. They gust fear. And while those winds can never blow Jesus away from me, they’ve been known upon occasion to blow me away from Him.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

22 comments:

L.T. Elliot said...

I love this post. The reminder that life rages and sometimes pushes Jesus away from us, even if He isn't always gone, is a reminder I needed. I've got to fortify His place in my life.

Denise said...

Amen.

Peter P said...

:-)

Nice, Billy!

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Sometimes it takes a gale-force wind to stir up some trouble in us so that we seek Him.

So you realize how many people you had asking "Have you seen Jesus?" that day? The message was not lost.

Annie K said...

I'm very happy to hear you found sweet baby Jesus. I had no idea he was missing.

Great post Billy!

Loren said...

As Usual Billy~ I smile on my face, and thoughts that go deep. Your words move, inspire, and I am thankful to read them everytime

Janet Oberholtzer said...

Great story - could start a new type of evangelism. I can see it now.

"Lightweight Baby Jesus - Buy one, get one free! Will blow with the wind!! Then you can go ask neighbors, if they found Jesus."

Corinne said...

It would have been awful not to find baby Jesus...
Glad you did :)

Helen said...

I am glad that you found Jesus.
I love light up Nativity scenes, btw. I always have.

Jeanne Damoff said...

Laughed out loud at the mental image of you calling Jesus' name out loud. 50 points.

And, of course, as always, your point is well taken. Appreciate you so much, Billy.

S. Etole said...

Life is messy sometimes and we can't always see as clearly where He is even though He's always there.

Maureen said...

As you seek, so shall you find.

Great post!

Heather Sunseri said...

I needed this today, Billy! The winds seem to be raging in my life right now, and I'm so glad that Jesus is always there to weather storms with us.

I'm also glad you didn't have to tell your family that Jesus was lost.

Cassandra Frear said...

We should always be like this about the real Jesus. You're right.

Rachel H. Evans said...

My favorite part of this post: Knocking on doors and asking, “Have you found Jesus?”

Fantastic piece, as always.

jasonS said...

Well, then there is the age-old debate of whether you found Jesus or Jesus found you. :)

Great post, Billy. Thanks.

Doug Spurling said...

Calling out for Jesus - knocking on doors asking "have you found Jesus" Lord, help me search for the real you more than I would for the lost figurine.

Simple & profound all at once.

Well Done. Jesus just loves you.

Merry Christmas Billy.

Robin Arnold said...

In the early years of working for a Church in San Antonio, the Senior Pastor always hid the baby Jesus until Christmas Eve, then it got placed in the Nativity. Two years in a row he forgot where he hid the figure resulting in an all out search over the entire campus, with hours spent searching. We always did find it just in time. After the second year of panic we designated the hiding place, double and triple checking weekly to make sure the statue was present and accounted for. That also accounted for the seasonal running conversation, Him, "You do know where Jesus is?" Me, "Yes sir, we've got Jesus."

Thanks for the swell post.

Marla Taviano said...

One of my tweets from Saturday:

"We can't find baby Jesus! Let's go look for baby Jesus!" Two minutes later: "We found baby Jesus! He was under all that STUFF!" Indeed.

Beth E. said...

So true, Billy! He never leaves US...it is we who leave HIM.

So glad that Jesus is back, right where He belongs. :-)

P.S. We felt those winds last Wednesday, too. Shew...

Roxane B. Salonen said...

I, too, panic when I can no longer feel Jesus' presence, and then I realize, often, that I was at fault for turning my back at the wrong time -- just when the wind was blowing the hardest. You'd think I'd learn my lesson, but I rarely learn it well enough to stay near to Jesus 100 percent of the time, every day. What a sweet, symbolic post of what's really important. And you will conquer those fears, so long you have Jesus nearby.

Terra said...

I am sure glad that you found the plastic baby Jesus who was ripped away by the wind and found again, there all along, waiting.