Over the past year or so I have been pondering this concept of obscurity and the idea of wasting my life on God. Now before you go jumping to conclusions I’m definitely not saying that serving God is a waste. There is far more to obscurity than what meets the eye. What I am saying is that when we give our lives to God to use as He wishes it often looks like a waste to the world’s standards of a successful life. It’s that I have the freedom and privilege to be fully obedient without worry because this life isn’t my forever. I live for eternity so the choices I make on this earth add towards that reality. Obscurity is defined as the state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant. I’m enthralled by the idea that my life could look so unimportant to the world but have a rich and vibrant inheritance for generations to come. I want my grandchildren to be blessed by the fruit of my life and know that I gave everything I had to God while I still took breath on this earth.
“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”Brother Lawrence
I have a very driven personality and so it’s not very difficult for me to motivate myself to always be doing better. That motivation mixed with a very religious upbringing has really driven my walk with God for a long time. I have done some truly amazing and hard things in the past few years. I lead through so many moments I never thought I’d be able to and came out of it a stronger person. I pushed myself to do more, be more, and achieve more during that time and all that pushing worked and I grew. In many ways I had far more success than I ever thought I would but I started to see this disconnect within my soul. I was so busy doing things for God that I started missing God Himself. The hustle and speed of my life left no space to sit and be present with the hidden parts of my heart that God wanted access to. It wasn’t until my motivation started to dwindle that I was forced to acknowledge the deep chasm exhaustion was causing within. It was around that time that God started to bring all these resources into my life through other peoples stories who’d been down this same road and found different ways to live with God. I started reading and longing for the depth and intimacy that some people had found with God.
“There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.”Mother Teresa
This journey really took off with a Henri Nouwen book which brought me deeper in understanding contemplative living. I started to look at people like Brother Lawrence and Mother Teresa and I was incredibly inspired to change what motivated me. There is this beautiful theme of obscurity that has marked all of their lives and made them famous; as ironic as that is. Brother Lawrence was a monk who lived in the 1600’s and spent most of his days washing dishes in a monastery. He however did his work with an incredible conviction that any task is Holy when we do it with and for God. He dedicated his life to remaining in the presence of God and wrote an incredible book called “Practicing the Presence” that has changed peoples lives for years. Mother Teresa was a catholic nun that moved into the slums of Calcutta to serve the poor, sick, and dying; which is profound work when you start to understand how the caste system impacts this group of people. Henri Nouwen was a priest that spent a large portion of his life at Le Arche which was a home for mentally handicapped adults. He spent his days learning how to love and be loved by these people who often struggled to see their value in a society that has rejected them. As I look at their lives I see people who loved so proudly and gave every last bit of themselves to God to use as He wills. They all suffered and struggled, just as well all do, but the difference is the depth they found in God as they severed through this obscurity.
““The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation…”Henri Nouwen
Doing great things with large amounts of influence isn’t wrong but why we do it matters. God cares more about our hearts motivations then what we are doing for Him. If we do all these great things but it is without love or at the cost of our own souls then it is meaningless. In today’s culture of busyness it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle of doing things for God that we miss Him entirely. Busyness is a sickness fueled by distraction but we can learn to eradicate it from our lives by being intentional in growing our intimacy with God. As we slow down and quiet our hearts we see that He is not rushed or anxious or hurried. The more we know Him the more we can trust that He’ll get us where we need to be when the time is right. Christian living is not always large or glamorous but when we live from a place of obedience motivated by love it has the power to change the world. Obedience can drive you further if you aren’t distracted by the shiny trinkets of momentary success. Let love be your motivator and allow that path to lead you through obscurity, refining your character, so you can walk out your call from a place of freedom and wholeness. Obscurity may not be your end but it might be your first step.