The following is a brief excerpt from my new book Finding Favor from a chapter called “Intentional Obscurity.” I’ve been so encouraged to hear that the book’s been incredibly helpful and encouraging to Pastors who have read advanced copies. Finding Favor releases next Tuesday. A free 4 week church-wide campaign with sermons, group questions, etc. will be available May 20. I’d be honored if you pre-ordered a copy HERE.
When we pray for God’s favor, what if sometimes the only way for him to truly bless us is to place us in total obscurity for a season?
Being hidden from the view of the crowd, tucked away in some secret crevasse of the world, would have a way of teaching us lessons that popularity and success cannot.
This is the kind of thing that makes those accustomed to celebrating overnight-success stories bristle.
Obscurity is a word formed from two Latin words: ob (over) and scurus (covered). Obscurus in Latin means “dark,” as in when the sun is “covered over” in a rainstorm.
Haven’t you noticed that three things tend to get “covered over” when we find ourselves wasting away in obscurity: recognition, opportunity, and self-worth?
One of the most painful parts of obscurity is that people don’t recognize the gifts and talents we have. We feel undervalued. We were created for so much more, but for some reason people can’t see it.
Next, doors keep getting slammed in our faces. It is always other people—less talented, less committed, and less whatever—who seem to keep getting the lucky breaks. If obscurity is driving the car, comparison is always riding shotgun.
Second-guessing ourselves is perhaps the most excruciating byproduct of tours of duty in obscurity. Trying to beat down doors while watching others waltz through them has a way of overturning the self-worth apple cart.
When people tell us to “hang in there” because our time is coming, their well-intended words only add fuel to the fire. Our time never seems to come, and we assume we know the real reason: we’re not as good as we think we are.
Otherwise, why else would we be stuck?
The entire witness of Scripture leads to one inescapable conclusion on this matter: obscurity is a sign of God’s favor, not a sign of his anger.
Thankfully, there is a good reason God sends people like me, you, and van Gogh into obscurity. You’re not going to like the answer, but it is somewhat comforting to know one exists.
Here it is, courtesy of Oswald Chambers:
“God gives us the vision, then he takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience.”
God places us in obscure places and situations because we’re not ready yet. Our spiritual maintenance lights are on. Outside forces must be brought to bear to shape us into the kind of people who can handle the vision we’ve been given.
Until that happens, doors remain shut. This happens because God knows that without the valley, the vision will never come to fruition.
Let’s be honest: it’s hard to focus on what God wants if we depend on getting recognition from those around us to stay motivated, isn’t it?
It’s hard to rely on God when doors of opportunity seem to open by themselves.
And it’s undeniably difficult to take the hits, comments, pushback, and outright opposition that comes as we pursue God’s vision for our lives if our self-worth is rooted in what other people say about us.
If recognition, opportunity, and self-worth are stirred up into the fuel that drives our culture, then the valley is God’s opportunity to flush that unholy concoction out of our exhaust. God-sized dreams are never driven, nor sustained, by worldly ambitions.
God has a vision for how each of our lives will turn out. He has a series of meaningful and weighty assignments that we’re called to accomplish.
Unfortunately, more often than not the training for how to handle those assignments doesn’t usually happen until after they’re handed to us.
So, if you have been asking for God’s favor on your life, and he has “blessed” you by giving you a dream, but
- doors have been shut,
- emails have gone unreturned,
- applications have been turned down,
and calls have gone unanswered, even though you’ve
- tried everything,
- prayed everything,
- given everything,
- and sacrificed everything,
then hang on.
You’re exactly where God wants you to be right now.
(continue reading by ordering a copy of Finding Favor HERE)