I have been pondering lately on the thoughts of hiddenness and a stage. My thoughts are rather unformed, but maybe that’s better to share, than thinking I have it all figured out?
For whatever reason, I’ve been given a stage. I don’t seek it, don’t want it, don’t ask for it. But my story doesn’t reflect my love of hiddenness.
When I went to go volunteer at my local PRC (“in the back, please, folding baby clothes or something”), I was asked to seriously pray about being a peer counselor instead. And so I became a counselor. Turns out, I like counseling. The people who knew me as a quiet girl were rather surprised.
A couple years later, when I walked in for my regular volunteer shift, I was offered a job on staff at my PRC, as an administrative assistant. And so I learned to answer phones and greet people at the front desk and help at events. I enjoyed it, though the tasks were simple.
After a year, I was asked to add running our sexual integrity program to my job description. And so I talked to classrooms full of teenagers about goal setting, character, friendship, sex, relationships, STD’s and more. To my own great surprise, I loved it. Who knew that presenting on such topics could be quite so exhilarating?
Somewhere along the way, my PRC director decided that we should divide up the church list that she spoke at every year, and I should do half. And so I learned to speak about my favorite ministry in unfamiliar churches all over the valley. I’m never not nervous, but I love it just the same.
My job description morphed and changed. Somehow I ended up in charge of coordinating lots of things, training people, designing things, making decisions, and taking on leadership roles I’d never sought out.
I showed up to a planning meeting to gather information about a local church district youth event, and walked out having been asked to run all the activities with a friend. We had a blast planning them, and a year later the kids were still talking about it.
One thing led to another, and I was asked to be a church secretary, move to a new church I’d never even visited, and instantly be on church staff. It meant getting to know an entire church of people quickly, navigating unknown histories, helping with youth and outreach and worship . . . and for some reason (God!) I still said yes.
And the stages keep showing up. I was asked to share my story on stage at a sexual integrity conference. I was asked to sing on stage at church, and recently, add playing piano as well. I end up coordinating all kinds of things, everywhere I go, and it seems that if I’m not on stage, I’m assisting those who are.
There’s a couple themes I see running through my story. I’m never looking for it. I always get asked to do it. It’s always an ask that I see God clearly led to, so I have to say yes. God removes all the reasons that I could use to decline. God’s strength is always sufficient for whatever He asks me to do. And so far, it’s ended up that I’ve loved what I’ve gotten to do.
But my heart craves hiddenness. I may be comfortable on stage, but I’m equally comfortable behind the scenes. I may love presenting in a classroom, but I also love a heart-to-heart chat over coffee with a girl I’m mentoring. I may enjoy coordinating an event, but I’m just as happy rocking a baby in the nursery. I’m not an introvert, not at all, but sometimes it’s nice when someone else is in charge and the outcome doesn’t depend on me. That hardly ever happens, though.
I don’t want hiddenness for the sake of being hidden, per-say. If something needs doing and nobody else is willing, I’ve learned to step up. For example, if nobody else wants to talk about God’s design for sex in youth group, well, then, I will. The stage holds no fear for me – but it also holds very little draw.
The hiddenness I crave isn’t from fear or needing “alone time”. I just want to live for the audience of One. I don’t want to grow accustomed to applause, to serving visibly, to being thanked for what I do. I know how easily I can become a people pleaser, how much I enjoy being needed, how deceivingly easy pride can be.
And that, I do want to run from. I want to serve where nobody knows what I’m doing. I want to fail sometimes, instead of being good at everything I try. Not that I want to let people down, but I want to learn my own limitations, and rely deeper on the God who has none. I want to serve people who won’t thank me or give me anything in return. I want to love well when it’s hard and it matters.
More than anything, I want to know God. It is an insatiable craving that is both filled and never satisfied. I want to know more of how He works. I want to worship Him in the mundane, not just in the grandiose. I want to be grateful for simple pleasures, not just successful events. I want to go deeper, not broader. I want to see and know the God who desires truth in the inward parts, who wants obedience and not sacrifice, who tells Mary that she has chosen the better part.
In our social media and technology driven world, I want to turn it all off. Which is funny, considering that I’m in charge of maintaining 5+ facebook pages. This blog post will likely get seen on social media. But I don’t care if it does or doesn’t. I don’t care about the numbers of who reads this blog. I publish a few meager words, and God can do what He wants to with them. The vast majority of the words I write are between me and Him and will never see the light of day, anyhow.
I spend my margins of mornings and evenings and weekends spending as much time with Him as I can. Digging into His Word. Listening to His Word. Studying His word. Praying. Being quiet in His presence and listening. Journaling, which for me is just processing with God and praying in a written form. Singing and worshiping and speaking truth to myself.
I can’t get enough of Him. I am learning to let my conversation with Him become worship that flows into every moment of every day, but still there is more to know of Him. And when life is full of deadlines and projects and decisions, it’s easy to forget to meditate on His Word day and night.
Yet today, God has given me a stage. He is teaching me to find hidden moments with Him just the same. To use my lunch break to feed both body and soul. To ask for prayer when given a stage and remember that He alone sustains me. To use commute time as worship time.
Perhaps one day, my life will look very different. Perhaps God will grant my wish of hiddenness. Perhaps not.
I don’t know what your life looks like today. Is it a season of the stage or of hiddenness? Do you serve people who thank you, or people who don’t? Maybe the specifics aren’t important.
But there are questions that do matter. How are we doing at finding hiddenness with God, in the middle of whatever the outward stage or hiddenness looks like? How much time are we taking to be in the secret place with Him? Are we truly abiding in Him?
Are we beholding Him? Are we learning that He delights in us? Are we allowing Him to shape us, and remembering that He cares more about who we become than what we do?
Regardless of whether your audience is a classroom or a sanctuary or two small children . . . are you living for the audience of One?
May it be said of us that we looked to Him and were radiant, and that our faces were not ashamed.