I think it's frustrating for most of us to find we're more like Joseph and Matthias than Peter and Paul. We do what we do because we hope that it matters. We hope the world notices the quiet, faithful things we do. We hope our boss sees. Or our family. Or our friends. Then we read the story and find that our names are nowhere in it and...
Joseph and Matthias are mentioned a grand total of a combined zero times in the Gospels. In the story of Jesus, of which they so much desired to be a part, they are so irrelevant as to not be mentioned. The Gospel writers - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - may have failed to notice their presence at all. Ouch.
But it's not entirely to be unexpected. Because these writers, and many of the others who traveled with Jesus, were not looking for Joseph or Matthias. And that's really where the problem lies.
They weren't looking at the men; they were looking at the Man. They weren't telling the story of the disciples; they were telling the story of the Discipler. They didn't seem to notice these two men because they simply weren't tuned into the bigger thing. They had one Man in their sights, and His name was Jesus. Everyone else is a bit character. It's not that the other men and women were not seen. It is simply that they were not watched.
This is the trouble that most of us face in the world. This is what aggravates us. We do our best to be a part of the stories that are unfolding around us. To be a part of our family story. To be a part of our church story. To be a part of our community story. And so many more. We do our quiet, faithful duties. We're present as every piece of the narrative unfolds. We play our role, we think, to a T. And one day, we discover that hardly anyone has notice. Perhaps no one has. People talk about that time their family.... or their church.... or their community.... but there's nothing specific about you.
It comes down to the same problem that Joseph and Matthias had, and that is this: this world may see you, but it's not watching. This world isn't focused, isn't fixed on you. It's not trained to observe you. It's always looking to its bigger stories.
It's looking to the stories of its families. And maybe you're a part of that, but you're not all that. It's something bigger. It's looking to the stories of its church. And maybe you're a part of that, too, but you're not all that. It's something bigger. It's looking to the stories of its communities. And maybe you're a part of that, but you're not all that. You see, the trouble for us quiet, faithful types is that this world is not telling our stories; this world is telling its own stories, of which we only happen to be a small part.
There has to be a reason to start thinking about you.
Jesus has ascended. Judas is dead. All of a sudden, the disciples are looking for one more man to round them out. All of a sudden, they have a reason to start thinking about the men they maybe haven't thought about it. In reflection, they see clearly - there are two. There are two quiet, faithful men among us who have been content to be in the story but not be the center of it. And these are the men we want. These are the men who are qualified to be among us. And it turns out - the disciples even know these men's names.
Imagine that! They were not so unseen after all.
You're playing a role in bigger stories, in the stories the world is trying to tell and those that God is telling. Some days, it doesn't feel like you're doing much at all, like anyone is noticing the good, quiet, faithful things you're doing. But they are. This world sees you even when it's not watching. God sees you. And the day is coming when the stories will get bigger, when there will be holes to fill, when there will be roles to cast. Only then will you understand how many have seen. Only then will you know who has noticed.
Because you will be called by name to do a bigger thing.