Even though I’ve started a little shop, my face won’t be on the cover of an Entrepreneur magazine. Even though I’ve been running since I was a girl, I won’t win the Boston marathon. Even though I write nearly every day, I won’t be a best-selling author.
Although, my conclusions seem extremely obvious, and I might add a bit dismal, there’s a competitive streak in me that wants to clod and climb my way to the top, to somehow find fame. Settling into my normal shoes feels like I’m surrendering to mediocrity.
Why do things if we don’t have an extravagant vision or goal in mind? Why do things if it doesn’t come with a profit? Why keep our talents between us and the Lord, when they could be shared?
So, I make things to market and merchandise them.
I run six days a week to win that one race.
I write to be read.
Everything must have a grand purpose.
This summer I was doing my usual Saturday morning run, which included repeating a route several times, when a man out in his front yard casually asked me, “So…what are you training for?”
“Nothing…I’m just runnin’!” I smiled at him and continued back to my house, but the encounter wouldn’t leave me.
Nothing. I thought back to my response. I wished I could have said something more interesting!
We idolize people with strong visions, don’t we?
We are captivated and attracted to people, organizations, and churches who are on a mission, moving forward with a purpose.
To do something just to do something, well that sounds wasteful, immature, or unprofessional to me because…
I am not content with obscurity.
For most of us, including myself, we avoid obscurity at all costs. Our precise plan brings purpose to our everyday. Our goals get us going to where we want to be. Our vision veers us towards our big desires. We choose at least a little clarity over obscurity any day.
But what about Jesus? He was a man who lived in, even craved obscurity? He (the MESSIAH!) didn’t even want people to know who He was before it was time.
Constantly, you can find me questioning Jesus’ plan. Follow me? Really Jesus, that doesn’t sound snazzy enough. What will I get out of this? Will this move me forward in life? Will it help me become better or faster or noticed?
Of course, I might add more poetic words to my worries than that, but my fear is evident.
I refuse to rest in obscurity.
When was the last time you or I exercised just to exercise- not to burn off the cake, not to train for a race, not to decompress from a stressful day?
When was the last time you or I created just to create- not to showcase it or share it or sell it?
When was the last time you did something just to do something? With no life-changing purpose behind it. I know this sounds counter-intuitive to a world that tells us everything we do needs to be documented and marketable.
I think of Paul’s famous statement, “run to win” in 1 Corinthians 9:24, and I automatically think God wants me to train and work harder, to strive for the prize with every step. I use it as an excuse for my heart to compete and seek to be on the covers of magazines, or in front of crowds, or at least for my neighbor to know about it.
But then Paul goes on to say, “All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.”
The eternal prize is obscure, don’t you think?
The gold medal we can kiss, the profit we can count, the award we can post, the achievement we can share, now that’s a prize! We know how to get it too- training, branding, vision, planning, using our talents.
I’ve got a hunch that going after the eternal prize might feel like we’re “training for nothing.” Some might even accuse us of running for no reason.
But perhaps the ones willing to be led in and rest in obscurity, are the ones who are winning, the ones we actually need to watch a little closer.
The prize they are after has nothing to do with what the world can give them or what they can get, and everything to do with how God sees them.
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. ” Colossians 3:1-4 (The Message)
If you’re interested in to diving more into this topic or challenged “to be content with obscurity” I love the following resources:
Sara Hagerty’s book, Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed
Kristin Hill’s 6-week study, “Go and Tell No One”
This podcast from Ken Helser by Makers and Mystics
And all of these devotionals from the Cageless Birds