I spy with my little eye — a Valais-cross ewe with big, curvy horns! What struck me most about this photo of Josie is the way her drab, winter wool perfectly blends into the drab winter grass. This sheep version of camouflage got me thinking about how some people strive to “blend in” while others work overtime to “stand out.” Which kind of person are you?
I’m bookish and introverted by nature but as I’ve matured in age and faith, I’ve come to realize the choice isn’t between being “lion or lamb.” It’s a both/and proposition. The Bible is full of seemingly bit players who rose to the occasion God set before them, some leaving their indelible mark on the front page of salvation history—others leaving us important footnotes on what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
Think of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob. He was a sensitive boy, prone to prophetic dreams, and no match for his jealous brothers. I suspect Joseph would've gladly faded into the woodwork if his father hadn’t made him an amazing “coat of many colors” that drew the eyes of his brothers and put a target on his back. Sold into slavery, Joseph rose from obscurity to become Pharoah's governor of Egypt, saving his brothers—and an entire people—from famine. (Genesis 37)
David was a young, unassuming shepherd who was happy to tend his father’s flock and likely thought he'd do so for the rest of his life. That is, until the prophet Samuel came to call, plucking him from anonymity and anointing him the future king of Israel. (1 Samuel:16)
Esther was a young, timid, beautiful Jewish woman who, while exiled, married the King of Persia. Knowing she could be killed for approaching the King uninvited, she prayed and fasted for three days before visiting her husband, begging him to prevent a planned holocaust of the Jews. Because of her boldness, her people were spared. (Book of Esther)
All Moses wanted (after a notorious past) was to blend in and grow old in peace, but God tapped him to lead the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. He begged God to choose a more articulate and charismatic spokesperson. Despite his reluctance, Moses stands out as one of the most heroic leaders in salvation history! (Exodus 4:10)
Mary, a quiet, grace-filled Jewish girl, was asked by an angel if she would give birth to the Son of God. Abandoning herself to God's will, she humbly proclaimed herself the handmaid of the Lord. Her spontaneous hymn of praise, the Magnificat, testifies to her radical courage and zeal as she embraces her dramatic role as the blessed Mother of God. (Luke 1:26-55)
John the Baptist's leap in the womb eventually landed him in the wilderness, where instead of blending into the scenery like an eccentric recluse, he preached the need for repentance with loud cries and a fiery spirit that paved the way for the coming Messiah. (Mark 1: 1-9)
Nicodemus, the curious Pharisee, blended into the cover of night to converse with Jesus. But it wasn't long before his heart and faith became emboldened to the point where despite the perils of breaking rank, he helped prepare Jesus’ crucified body for burial. (John 19:39)
The “unclean” woman with the persistent hemorrhage took great pains to blend into the crowd, even as she reached out to touch Jesus’ cloak. When Jesus’ power went forth, she was singled out and praised by Him for her faith. Healed and blessed, she would never simply blend in again. (Luke 8:43-48)
Following Jesus' arrest, Peter strove to blend in whilst in the courtyard of the high priest, going so far as to deny knowing the Lord. And yet, this same Apostle who whispered, waffled, and denied, would soon "raise his voice" and proclaim the resurrection of Christ to a crowd of thousands: “You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you, and listen to my words!" (Luke 22:54-62, Acts 2:14-41)
Jesus himself was “the son of a carpenter” who for thirty years blended into the unremarkable, domestic life of Nazareth. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked with a shrug. "Come and see!" replied Phillip, who already knew the answer. (Matthew 13:55, John 1:46)
And so do we.
Meek though he was, this good and glorious Jesus of Nazareth never shrank from His mission to save us from our sins. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16).
There are times in our lives where we will necessarily blend in every now and then. But like Josie among the winter grass, one can only blend in for so long. Spring—and our faith—demands that we too spring to life in our own coat of many colors that our Father in heaven has made just for us. We will still strive to be as lambs in imitation of Christ. But we must also strive to be as lions, prepared for the fight, faithful to the finish, and willing to stand out in a world of lost sisters and brothers who desperately need to be able to say, with wonder, certainty, and desire: “I spy, with my little eye…a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
To which we will reply...Come and see!