Monday, November 01, 2010


I don't like being ignored. As a general rule, it's just downright rude to ignore someone, right? When I go to a restaurant, I'd like to be greeted by a hostess or waiter—even if they can't serve us right away. When I come home, I'd like for someone in the house to at least acknowledge my arrival—even if it's just the dog (my precious Bouzer always welcomes me home). But can you think of times when it's actually good to go unnoticed? My husband says a good football official is one you don't notice. If they're doing their jobs correctly, the game runs smoothly and you can enjoy the competition rather than having the flow broken by faulty officiating. (Can you tell he was a coach in his early years?) Roy and I were invisible for almost two years. Not like the Houdini-kind-of-invisible, but the kind of invisible one needs after fourteen years of pastoral ministry. We disappeared in a mega-church—sitting in the back, only attending Sunday worship services. In fact, we were so invisible that we never even met the pastor or a single staff member in the two years we attended. Lest you think we were heathen sinners, fallen from the grace-earning ranks of Christendom, let me assure you that Roy still ministered through mentoring students on campus, and I continued ministering through my computer screen. It was lovely…for a little while, and we have since found a wonderful smaller church, where we can become a part of the visible body again. Being invisible can be a blessing—or a curse. It was both for Joseph.

Gen. 39:6 – "So [Potiphar] left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome…"
  • Potiphar ignored Joseph with mixed motives. Indeed, he trusted his blessed slave; however, it seems the trust was mixed apathy and busyness on the part of Pharaoh's Captain of the Guard. No matter Potiphar's motives, Joseph was determined to respond honorably.
Gen. 39:7-10 – "…and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he refused. 'With me in charge,' he told her, 'my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?' And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her."
  • Invisible chatter is unadvisable. A quick, "No," would have sufficed and kept Joseph invisible. Granted, Potiphar's wife proves to be a persistent woman; however, as a rule the more we explain and clarify and communicate and, and, and…the further "exposed" we become. When dealing with temptation, oftentimes less is more, and explanations lead to danger.
Gen. 39:11-18 – "One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. 'Look,' she said to them, 'this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.' She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: 'That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.'" (emphasis added)
  • The trusted servant Potiphar once "ignored" becomes a foreigner and then an intruder. How could Potiphar be so easily convinced that his trustworthy servant was guilty of such evil? For the same reason many quiet folks with somewhat "invisible" personalities are mistaken for snobbish, unintelligent or some other socially less-than trait. Joseph fell prey to the peril of many introverts—misjudgment by misunderstanding.
Gen. 39:19-23 – "When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, 'This is how your slave treated me,' he burned with anger. Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did." (emphasis added)
  • Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt? Sold into slavery by his brothers. Boo. Success in Potiphar's house. Hooray. Unjustly accused and wrongly imprisoned. Boo. Success in prison and favored by the warden. Hooray? Let's face it. No one wants to be noticed in prison. Invisible was the best Joseph could hope for, right? But not JUST invisible. Blessed invisible. Joseph felt God's presence and reaped God's blessing no matter what his circumstance. Why? Because no one is invisible to God.
Lord, whether I receive the attention of others or not, I always have Your undivided attention and favor. You never look away, never blink, never miss a single heartbeat. You have numbered every hair on my head, and I am precious to You. Let this knowledge cradle me during those difficult moments when others look through me, or when others notice me in hurtful ways. In You, I can hide and become blessedly invisible.

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