‘Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual….Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” – Luke 2:41-42; 52.

When most people think of Jesus Christ’s time on earth, they either think of a helpless baby lying in a manger or the Son of God dying on the cross and resurrected on the third day.  Few picture in their minds a growing boy. Few imagine God-in-the-flesh as a young man learning His human father’s profession. Luke 2:41-52 is the only story in the gospels about Jesus between his infancy and his public ministry.

The Bible does not tell us exactly what happened in the years leading up to the start of Jesus’ ministry. He did a lot of normal things like work and visit the temple. Jesus obviously was intelligent because he amazed even the teachers. 

But for the sake of discussion let’s say that Jesus prepared for 30 years for 3 plus years of significant ministry. Contrast that with today where people go to seminary for 2-4 years to prepare for 30 years of ministry. Here is what we do know. Just about anything meaningful that is achieved is preceded by intensive and thorough preparation (often behind the scenes). Things just don’t happen. In fact, in business and in life, the better the preparation, the more significant and lasting the impact. The same is true of the Christian life.

God prepares each of us in unique ways. God will use numerous methods to prepare us. Some of the preparation only makes sense looking back; some — like seminary made sense beforehand. And not all of the preparation will be, shall we say, fun or positive. But it is necessary. It is necessary because maturity in the Christian life does not just happen.  Ministry happens over time and sometimes in obscurity. It comes with failures and and any number of misses that God uses to develop us over time and through many life experiences.

So be content wherever God has placed you. In your obscurity God is working. He is preparing you for your calling and your purpose and that purpose may never be public ministry or where you will be noticed. It may be faithfulness as a real estate agent, as a truck driver, or a manager. He loves you right where you are and even when we are in the wilderness of obscurity, God is increasing us in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man. Remember what Philippians 1:6 tells us: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

As a final thought, we need to remember, that God works in decades and lifetimes, not days and weeks like we want. And obscurity is preparation for the day when God will use us to accomplish His purpose for our lives.

Discussion Questions

  1. Is obscurity one of the ways God prepares us to better serve Him?
  2. How is God preparing you today?
  3. What can we do this week to participate in our preparation so that can better use us to accomplish His purpose for our lives?