The trouble with you and me and the rest of humanity is not that we lack self-confidence (as we’re told by the world) but that we have far too much self-importance.
The thought of being just another of the roughly one hundred billion people to have ever graced this planet offends us—whether we realize it or not. We have such a high opinion of ourselves that to live and die unnoticed seems a grave injustice.
That pretty much sums us the vast majority of humankind, doesn’t it? Even those rare men and women who make a mark on our society—a passionate speaker, a star athlete, an active politician, a gifted musician, an empathetic humanitarian—they’re still “relatively unknown” in the grand scope of the world’s consciousness and especially in light of history.
Even we authors can’t escape obscurity.
Every time I visit a Barnes & Noble, I’m ready to lay down my pen for good. Solomon’s words taunt me as I stare at the obscene number of volumes: “There is no end to the making of many books.” (Eccles. 12:12)!
In the big picture we’re all in this obscurity thing together. That’s hard to remember in our little bubbles of influence.
It’s easy to think we’re somebody when we’re well known at church, or in a particular industry, or at our children’s schools.
When we have a nice portfolio, or a few letters after our name, or have a commemorative plaque on a little park bench somewhere, our pride creeps in and tempts us to want more: more recognition, more admiration, more influence, more, more, more.
Few, myself included, have ever given thought to wanting less.
Obscurity comes in many forms: It can be either assigned (by God) or chosen (by us).
I don’t know whether one is harder than the other. I just know that from a prideful, human point of view, either can gnaw at us.
We don’t want to live as one in a crowd. We don’t want to be just another person living in a subdivision in the suburban sprawl that has become America. And we certainly don’t want to die without making our mark on something . . . anything.
Even when an overarching, global obscurity has been assigned to us, we still have a choice of whether to embrace personal obscurity—an obscurity of heart as much as position. And that is the message I believe God has for us, a message He modeled as well as taught.
Adapted from Embracing Obscurity (2012, B&H Publishing Group)
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