Foggy Hike

Journey through Obscurity

Just as water ever seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds you abased and empty, His glory and power flow in. –Andrew Murray, pastor and author

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:8-11 (ESV)

Until I understood the significance of identity, I could never fully grasp the scope of the devil’s scheme to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. I’m sure there’s more to be learned about the matter, but one thing I do understand: each of the three temptations was significant—and incredibly powerful.

Jesus Knew Obscurity

The Son of God had gone from being the focal point of worship in heaven to total obscurity in the wilderness. For thirty years Jesus had walked this earth with only minimal attention. Satan was now offering Him the potential for glory without having to experience the pain and humiliation of the cross.

Jesus succeeded where all other humans had failed! He humbled Himself completely, honored the Father above all, and never attempted to grasp glory for Himself. The only person to walk this earth who was truly worthy of glory willingly embraced a long season of obscurity.

We All Crave Significance

The human heart ever craves glory and significance. Whether from a single individual or from a massive crowd, we incessantly hunger for validation. This glory-quest is so deeply ingrained in our hearts that we find it nearly impossible to eradicate. From a little boy running with all his might to gain his father’s approval, to a lonely woman sacrificing her dignity for the affirmation of a man, to grown men wearing tights and destroying their bodies to win a championship ring, glory is one of the most powerful motivating forces known to humankind.

Our desire for significance colors every aspect of life; thus, every quest for eternal glory will, by necessity, involve some type of a journey through obscurity.

I have tasted my share of obscurity and, initially, it was all rather painful. How dare my girlfriend fail to mention my name in her testimony of God’s blessings! Looking back, I can now see that my heart was overflowing with stupid human pride.

Purifying Our Motives

Every wilderness experience, it seems, is tailored to something that God seeks to accomplish in an individual’s heart. The trail of life often winds through lonely, shadow-filled valleys devoid of human applause. It is here that our carnal quests for human glory must meet their end. Only then will our Lord be fully honored.

We’d be foolish to think that all who serve God are inspired by love alone. More often than not, our motives are mixed. A pastor may pour out his heart in a message, praying for the Holy Spirit to transform his listeners. But if they don’t respond as expected, he’ll most likely take it personally. An administrator may work tirelessly to put together a successful conference, but if her name isn’t mentioned in the accolades, there’s a good chance she’ll either fly into anger or sulk into depression. While such a mixture of motives is entirely natural, it can also prove deadly.

Truly fruitful service can be motivated only by an other-centered love—the purity of which is often forged in the wilderness.

Kingdom Glory

Having been created in the image of God, each of us is wired for glory. But kingdom glory is of a very different sort than human glory, which is driven by a constant desire for self-elevation. Kingdom glory shines only as our fleshly tendencies are defeated, not exalted. When we forgive those who have callously injured us, God’s glory shines. When we pray for heaven to bless what we view as a competing ministry, God’s glory shines. When, in the midst of painful circumstances, we thank our Lord for His goodness, God’s glory shines.

Rarely will the world take note of the obscure individual immersed in kingdom glory, but you can be sure that heaven’s attention is captivated by every act of humble love. Wise Christians understand these things and are content to faithfully serve their Lord as they Journey through Obscurity. They genuinely do not care if glory and honor ever come through human accolades. If, however, they are somehow blessed to see a fruitful harvest from their labors, the wilderness will have prepared their hearts so that visible success does not result in a fatal curse.



This post is drawn from Chapter Twenty-Five of Bob’s devotional: Champions in the Wilderness—Fifty-Two Devotions to Guide and Strengthen Emerging Overcomers.