Dec 10, 2020
"Four Costs of Obscurity when Life doesn’t Seem Fair"
Hail to the Chief
This week on the Men in the Arena Podcast features retired Chief of Police, author, and President of Five Stones Press, Dr. Scott Silverii. Of the more than forty books he’s published we zeroed our sights on his latest book, Favored Not Forgotten, which was released in November. It is the only book I have ever read that deals with obscurity and how to pay the price on the journey to your best version.
We like to ignore obscurity—walking through the dry and often painful deserts of life— hoping it will somehow pass us by, but painful seasons of life surrounded nearly every man who did great things for God in the Bible. Scott writes, “The word obscurity is odd. It’s never really used in a positive light, and without digging into the academic definitions; the word intuitively leaves an uneasy stitch in your spirit.”
When I reflect on obscurity, I think of world changers like Moses (Exodus 2:15), Paul (Galatians 1:15-18), Abraham (Genesis 12:1-9), Joseph (Genesis 37:18-36), Jesus (Luke 2:51-52); all of whom spent literally years—decades— in obscurity before God unleashed their impact upon the world!
The Invisible Son
We often tease our middle son Darby that he is the middle child, the forgotten one. As a joke one Christmas we got him a small box of, “Middle Child Mints: Put them in your pocket and forget about them!”
We had a good laugh, but I bet young David wasn’t laughing when he wasn’t counted among his father Jesse’s sons when Samuel came to anoint the next king of Israel in 1 Samuel 16:5-10. Frustrated that none of Jesse’s sons was the one, “Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are these all the boys?’ And he (Jesse) said, ‘The youngest is still left, but behold, he is tending the sheep.’ So Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send word and bring him; for we will not take our places at the table until he comes here’” (1 Samuel 15:11).
Talk about obscure, but it was in the desert with the sheep where David learned to seek God, protect the flock, and kill interlopers (1 Samuel 17:34-36), and ultimately giants! Scott writes, “There are key decision-making opportunities in life, which we either approach voluntarily or have them thrust upon us.” In Scripture we see at least two seasons of obscurity with David (probably three); one as a young shepherd boy and one fleeing a jealous King Saul.
Pay Now or Pay Later but You WILL Pay
On a return trip from California, we crossed the Benicia-Martinez Bridge heading north where the toll was closed, I’m guessing due to COVID. But a month later we received a “ticket” for the $6.00 toll fee we thought we eluded!
Obscurity is a bridge every man must cross at some point and pay the toll. Scott writes, “Not everyone will choose to cross the bridge of obscurity. Obscurity is not punishment; it is a gift-giving process. Part of that process requires faithful action on your part. That action involves a crossing that once completed can never return you to the person you were prior to that action.”
In his book, Scott gives a great acrostic explaining the cycle or COST of obscurity. In other words, it generally takes us through a cycle before repeating itself again at some point.
Calling. Every man in Scripture was called by God into the land of obscurity prior to their season on influence. Everyone. Why would you be any different? God loves us too much to let us go through life unscathed and untested.
Obscurity. This is the desert experience or the valley of the shadow of death we read about in Psalm 23. We experience the bounty of God on the mountain top, but the fruit is grown in the valley. Do not despise small beginnings and obscure seasons. Be patient during this season. Trust God. Mine lasted a quarter of a century!
Stabilize. The catalyst of obscurity is often tragedy such as the loss of a loved one, failure of a marriage, shipwreck of sin, or (hypothetically) the fallout from a global pandemic! The waters will get rough, but they will eventually stabilize. Hang in there and like the old saying goes, “Take it like a man!”
Transformation (and influence). Two major things happen here. First, you are transformed. We’ve heard it said that God loves you just the way you are BUT loves you so much He refuses to leave you that way. God’s ultimate goal is to change us before we are used to change others.
Second, this phase ushers in the season of influence where ministry is increased and anointing unleashed.
Boots on the Ground
Go to a quiet place, an obscure location, if I may be so bold. Ask God to show you if you are in a season of obscurity or influence and why? Invite Him to lead you down His obscure pathway (Proverbs 3:5-6).