Before I started out the door for vacation last summer, I quickly looked around for some reading material. If I was going to be spending long hours on the beach (getting ridiculously sunburned), I was going to need something to occupy myself. And since I had failed to take a trip to the library the day before, I was pretty much at the mercy of what happened to be lying around the house. The book that I grabbed was one that a friend of my wife’s had given her, but I was desperate – and fortunate.
The book was called Anonymous, and the gist of the book centered on the idea that while Jesus spent 33 years or so on this planet, about thirty of those years happened behind the scenes where no one was watching. The author, Alicia Britt Chole, called these the hidden years, and speculated on how those years impacted Jesus. While I don’t know that I agreed with all of the theology presented, I was captured by the idea that hidden years are often exactly what God has in mind for us. In our world we measure significance by achievement, but God measures it in an entirely different way. When we face the times in life when we feel forgotten, abandoned, stuck or discarded, God will step up to make those days worthwhile.
At first I didn’t underline some of the good things the author said – after all this was my wife’s friend’s book. But then I just went ahead because there were too many significant points to let them pass (my apologies, Sharyl). I’ll share one of them here, but then I would recommend that you get the book – especially if you feel like you have been asked to step behind the curtain in life.
“What does [being hidden like Jesus] build in us? What grows in that underestimated gap between God’s calling and others’ perceptions, between our true capabilities and our current realities? Most of us struggle if our dreams are delayed one year, let alone twenty. We find God’s pauses perplexing. They seem to be a waste of our potential. When those pauses extend beyond what we can comprehend or explain (say, for instance, three days), we often spiral into self-doubt or second-guessing.
“But in anonymous seasons we must hold tightly to the truth that no doubt strengthened Jesus through his hidden years: Father God is neither care-less nor cause-less with how he spends our lives. When he calls a soul simultaneously to greatness and obscurity, the fruit – if we wait for it – can change the world.”
I could have picked several other quotes that were just as good or better – but this one still provides some great food for thought. You are not forgotten by God. You have not been sent off to the corner to wait. You have been chosen by him to be hidden and anonymous so that he can do something big in you!