As one year ends and transitions into a brand new series of 365 chances to grow, there must be preparation. If you live in a “faith-based” environment such as myself, then you know the barrage of slogans, decrees and war cries started back in November. You’ve heard them, “Blessings Unforeseen in Eighteen”. I know, I know, total cheese fest!  But hundreds of thousands of people will dance, cry, shout and feel the spirit at the pronunciation of this and similar sayings around midnight on New Year’s. Amidst all the catchy phrases, soul stirring New Year projections, and epic prophetic announcements, we will go home on incredible spiritual highs. We will partake in bountiful spreads and toast to what God’s about to do in our lives. Only, we won’t stop long enough to consider that He does his best work, and best displays His grace in obscurity.

See, we will embrace the declaration over 2018, journal our deepest prayers, list what we’re believing for, and maybe even create a vision board. But that’s it! We will then fall into the same inactivity of previous years, just hoping and waiting for things to miraculously manifest. Even more disturbing is the immediate need to reveal our blessings and display our “come up” for all to see. The frustration that comes from being in neutral, supposedly waiting on God, is nearly maddening. The reality of heaven turning off the lights, tucking us away and requiring us to participate in our development becomes unbearable.  When the decrees are made, we expect God to instantly change our tax bracket without us having to learn money management.

We expect to be invited to sit at tables of great influence, but can barely differentiate a dessert fork from a salad fork. We’re not prepared to hold meaningful conversations about global topics, and wouldn’t know the appropriate protocol or what to wear in that environment. We believe that it is our year that God is bringing the one, but won’t engage in healing our souls from past hurts, so we can be available and fully capable of loving. We desire to get married but fail to prepare for marriage by learning how to communicate, how to cook, manage a home, (applies to both genders), healthy living, or simply doing whatever is required to become “the one”. Becoming someone that somebody wouldn’t want to live without requires development and preparation. Is God just supposed to let us be great at the snap of a finger?

Not only is your full participation required, but God will perfect you in darkness, in obscurity. You’ll write songs that  eclipse the top songs on the Billboard charts and no one will hear them. You may work twice as hard and be smarter than the person that gets the promotion, all while no one even notices your contribution. What if you audition for a lead role and get cast in a supporting role because no one knows your name yet? You might even be an incredible speaker or preacher, full of revelation and anointing but you’re stuck in your small little town coordinating Vacation Bible School every summer. See, obscurity will expose your heart, your motives and your passion. Will you go just as hard at your gift when there are no eyes on you?

Obscurity allows you to be shaped, to be formed and be corrected while you’re still in the developmental stage. God himself, being the potter, will place you on the wheel and His own hands will apply pressure to areas that are not smooth, that are imperfect. He’ll touch the places that, left unhealed, will later cause you to crack and shatter under the spotlight. The amount of pressure applied on clay while on the wheel determines the quality of the vessel made as well as the longevity of use obtained from it. Who wants to start well, but not end well with a strong finish? How many people do we see and read about who’ve made incredible contributions? They’ve wowed the world with their talents, but their character causes them to become notorious for their brokenness.

To be hidden, while being perfected… that’s the definition of grace. God covers us with darkness, so we can be authenticated. There’s a reason a wine that’s been aged in solitude is costly… it’s been perfected! So many of us want to “be great” while the world is watching. But greatness is harnessed in obscurity. You sharpen your gifts and skills when your only audience is sheep (ask David!). Master character, integrity, excellence, and wholeness before your name is in lights. The greater the spotlight the more every flaw, imperfection, attitude and deficiency is equally exposed along with your gift.

No one is expecting you to be perfect, but by all means be prepared. Obscurity will work for your good if you don’t mishandle it. Jesus altered the scope of history in 3.5 years as a result of 30 years in obscurity. Why are we in such a rush? In 2018 don’t get frustrated with obscurity, leverage it. If God cares to even pull you into a season of obscurity, that’s a down payment on your greatness. When you have completed your time of hiding, heaven itself will announce your arrival. You will know, everyone will know. Until then, do the work and get ready.

Here are my top ten tips for managing obscurity:

1. Relax, you’re not the only one

2. Stop fighting the process, surrender

3. Complaining elongates the Process

4. Capitalize on solitude; pray and listen

5. Let God show you your heart

6. Let God heal your heart

7. STUDY for where you are going

8. Personal development; get a Coach, a Counselor, submit to a God-fearing Pastor

9. Get a clear vision and plan

10. Wait for the green light, then GO