This Sabbath the sun is hiding behind a lazy linen drape of furrowed heavy rain clouds, so light is diffused gently, passively, similar to a memory I still have etched in my childhood years. Recall comes with sweet nostalgia for the Gentoo penguin exhibit at Riverbanks zoo in Columbia. In the 1970’s, like everything else the zoo was not quite as commercialized as it is today. I was a chap then, so everything had a pervasive sense of wonderment and mystery; from the click of the turnstile entrance down to the parlor of polar bears that sunbathed on red rocks adjacent to their cold-water swimming pools. But to see the penguins you had to walk into an enclosed atrium, a cleverly constructed piece of architecture designed to give the convincing appearance we explorers were embarking into some kind of prehistoric cave. Out from the chiseled patina bronze doors poured a panorama of aromas inciting one’s senses you had entered into an ancient civilization, yet unmarred by the touch of man’s hand. Once inside, your eyes were forced to adjust. The light you used to navigate the path was borrowed from the pale lights from the exhibits themselves, cast only weakly beyond the pedestrians’ rail. Each exhibit offered an array of locales that ranged from the tropic jungles of the colorful toucan complete with its artificial rain and lightning storms, to the frozen arctic tundra of the Gentoo penguins that huddled en masse on makeshift snow banks at the water’s edge, just opposite a thick wall of tempered glass.
What is it to live a life in obscurity? It’s such a telling question and yet there remains a measure of mystery behind it yes? Why would someone even consider asking such a question like this? Is there a motive behind it? Perhaps, but I think it is relevant to our lives because we have an eternal value placed inside us by The Creator of the universe. The realization comes suddenly, words are expressly important, even more so as we age in my opinion. Not to politicize, but consider the outright insanity being floated through the halls of congress and mainstream media as commonsense and good reasoning. We especially need to seek God in these days we are living. I’m speaking of our inner conversations we have with our self, and the outer ones we have with others. They carry weight, even after the moment they’ve been cast like seed in a field. Much of our learning has to do with our words doesn’t it? The prevailing lesson in this is that we will come to be more and more careful and aware of the words we use, especially as we mature as spiritual beings, and if we are not maturing as spiritual beings, then we are maturing into something else.
Living in obscurity is an untruth. Sometimes life feels lonely and we have seasons, but we are never living in obscurity. It is a tool of the flesh designed to pull our focus off of God, and onto self—this is as ancient as the fall in the garden itself. It says, “you deserve better, you have to make necessary concessions to protect your piece of the pie.” What we need to realize in the moment we’re tempted to entertain that line of thinking is that God is meeting all of our needs daily, because we are in covenant with Him. He provides. What did the psalmist say in Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” He, provides; and in so doing He is building His kingdom in your heart with every breath provided you are seeking Him first. In the book of Luke chapter 17 after having just cleansed 10 lepers Yeshua was questioned by the Pharisees about when God would come, and He said “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable; no one will say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of God is among you.” The word used there for “among” literally means within you. God is building His Kingdom, in you.
In closing I would like to defer to the venerable Sir Oswald Chambers, another man after God’s own heart. This morning during meditation I read from My Utmost for His Highest and was encouraged. The challenge he posed was simple. I say simple because it’s God’s command to us, His people. Where we fall is in the moment we begin to struggle for ownership of ourselves, and as Chambers has aptly pointed out, “His commands are difficult, but immediately we obey they become divinely easy.” Chambers goes on to say, “Is my ear so keen to hear the tiniest whisper of the Spirit that I know what I should do? ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit.’ The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the continual habit of being open to God on the inside. When there is debate, quit. ‘Why shouldn’t I do this?’ You are on the wrong track. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks. At your peril, you allow one thing to obscure your inner communion with God. Drop it, whatever it is, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.”
Paul pointed out as Chambers did, “and herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16). What if we lived our lives in such a way that we actually took care to exercise our self not to even have a conscience offended at God and our fellow man? What if we allowed God to possess our reigns this way as the Psalmist has said? When we exercise that kind of obedience, obscurity fades, shalom returns, and our vision becomes clear. Then the real work of God’s kingdom and our transformation begins.
*excerpts quoted from Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest.