A Major in Obscurity

Exodus 3:1

The desert is a place of obscurity. Moses had to cope with being a nobody. All his adolescent and adult life, he had been a big-time somebody. The spotlight followed his every move, much as the contemporary spotlight follows Britain’s Prince William and Prince Harry. Every time Moses stood, people looked up expectantly. Every time he addressed them, people stopped talking and listened. Every time he strolled through the streets, heads turned.

Sheep don’t do that. You can say whatever you want, you can turn backflips while reciting poetry, and the flock won’t be impressed at all. They’ll go right on feeding their faces. As much as you and I may appreciate wool sweaters and wool socks, sheep are basically unintelligent and unresponsive animals. And Moses had the pleasure of their company for four long decades of his life.

Perhaps you identify with this situation. As you read, you’re nodding your head. You are taking some course work in obscurity yourself; you find yourself struggling every day with the limitations you’ve had to endure. You have been forced by the very nature of the desert to give up many of the privileges, perks, and activities you once enjoyed and held most dear. Now you’re “just getting by,” subsisting on the absolute basics of life. That is God’s plan, my friend. And if you would graduate from His school of the desert, you must take classes in obscurity; it is the first required course of the school.

Amy Carmichael, one of my favorite poets, wrote these words:

Before the winds that blow do cease,
Teach me to dwell within Thy calm:
Before the pain has passed in peace,
Give me, my God, to sing a psalm.
Let me not lose the chance to prove
The fullness of enabling love.
Oh, love of God, do this for me:
Maintain a constant victory.1

Here is the unvarnished truth: If you don’t learn to live peacefully with obscurity, you will repeat that course until you do. You cannot skip this one and still graduate.

  1. Amy Carmichael, from Rose from Brier (Fort Washington, Penn.: CLC Publications, 1973), 12. Used by permission.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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