the mercy of not being recognized

It hasn't felt much like Lent this year. With the very early spring it seems like the new life of Easter (and a new pregnancy) began pushing Lenten repentance out of the way almost before it began. But I do have one reflection that fits the Lenten theme.

I spoke with a friend the other day who remarked, "So, Paul the walker is going to have a baby." It struck me because thoughts of becoming a parent has made me wonder if my life's becoming more "normal" or less inspiring or at least less noticeable, hidden among a lot of ordinary human tasks. It's a thought I've had before. And I've been wondering if that's something I should be concerned about.

The story of Jesus' path to the crucifixion is far from ordinary. Yet reading that story I was reminded that this was a path that Jesus asked to be spared from. And I also recalled a thought I've had before, that to be recognized publicly as close follower of Jesus also sets us up to be treated publicly as he was. It's easy in our "Christian" society to think that recognition as a good Jesus-follower leads to acclaim and success. But that's far from the truth. It's far from what Jesus told us to expect. To be recognized as truly acting and speaking as Jesus did leads directly to the kind of end that Jesus experienced. This is not something to be envied or desired. Jesus knew what true recognition meant and he did not desire that path.

To follow Jesus and not be widely recognized is thus a mercy. Jesus was spared of it for maybe thirty years. I should be grateful to be spared of it also, especially if it allows a time of relative peace and stability for the nurturing of a child. I think there will definitely be a times, for all Jesus' followers, to be recognized and face the consequences of that. But it's not something to rush into with reckless zeal; that only shows we don't understand what we're doing. Obedience to God means accepting God's timing and accepting what God gives. Including the mercy of not being recognized.