When I go to the store, I prefer anonymity. Sunglasses. Sometimes a ball cap. Our town is small and it is a chore to keep from being recognized and curb-sided…
I had brought my car to Discount Tire to get a tire repaired and was sitting outside on the curb, enjoying a few minutes of pleasure reading.
I looked up and saw a tall, thin, sallow fellow, with hair trimmed short and sticking straight up. He had been my son’s soccer coach twenty years ago. He had been a bit aloof in those days, not unfriendly, but distant.
We hugged. Something had changed in him.
A bit of family catch-up talk followed.
“You look pretty fit,” I looked him in the eyes.
“Not too bad for a guy with metastatic prostate cancer.”
That particular cancer and its terrible prognosis always hits me like a ton of bricks. I tried to hide it in my face, but my eyes gave away my feelings.
“Lots of chemo, but my recent PET scan showed everything clear…for now.” He teared up. “I kept teaching, though. What was I going to do? Sit at home and do nothing?”
“Sounds pretty rough.”
He turned his head away from my gaze, overcome by emotions to which I was a stranger. “Yeah, pretty rough…”
I didn’t invade his space or fill the gap with chatter. I waited.
“I just turned yellow…no pain, really…I just don’t know…”
He looked at me, with a hint of expectancy. I took the cue.
“This is a broken world. I don’t understand these things. I don’t know where else to turn but to Jesus.”
“I’m just not there.”
“Can I take you there?”
He looked at me with a puzzled look.
“Can I take you there in prayer?” He nodded. I prayed as we held each other by the shoulders. A moment outside of time.
Jesus doesn’t do anonymity. Jesus doesn’t try to disguise himself to prevent recognition. He is here and now and active. “I am with you always, to the every end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Even the Father doesn’t cozy to anonymity: “This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5)
The soccer coach looked into my eyes, said goodbye, and turned away. I watched him walk to his car, wondering if I would see him again, this side of glory. I prayed for his soul.
“Doc!…hey doc!” A stout, short fellow waved at me and walked over. “Good to see you…”
The harvest field is ripe.
Anonymity be hanged.