24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion.

She said, 25‘This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.’

It is hard work living with a lifetime of “disgrace.”

We live in such a competitive culture. Everything is about good, better, best. We exist on a sliding scale of achievement.

I have a finely attuned antenna for where I fit “among my people”. It is difficult to settle down comfortably in my assigned spot and reconcile myself to all those who appear to be ahead of me in the race.

Who wants to be second “best”? Who wants failure? Who can bear to be found wanting in the great meritocracy that drives our culture?

How many strategies have I employed in a futile attempt to avoid even the hint of “disgrace”?

elizabeth-pregnantWhen Elizabeth discovers that her dream of fruitfulness is about to be fulfilled, she withdraws from the race to prove herself in the eyes of the world. She does not rush to gloat, to exhibit her blessing among the people. She resists the temptation to announce to the world that her “disgrace” has at last been lifted.

Instead, Luke says, “for five months she remained in seclusion.”

“Seclusion” means no more measuring up. In seclusion there is no one left to compare myself to.

When I go into “seclusion” I live with myself as I am. In “seclusion” there is nothing left to prove, no schemes to accomplish, or great kingdoms to build. It is just me, alone, finding deep within myself that the only affirmation I need is the affirmation of the One who has “looked favourably on me.”

To move beyond the merit system is to rest and trust in the graciousness of life and find the merit born in my deepest being by the mercy of Christ.

What are the strategies I use in an attempt to remove “disgrace” in my life?

What practices help me step outside the system of meritocracy and rest in the mercy of God’s goodness born in my being?