God could have gained maximum notice for his Son by sending him to Rome, Milan, Carthage, or Alexandria—at least Jerusalem. Instead, he sent him to a village so boorish that the locals quipped, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" (John 1:46).
But rather than try to overcome this disadvantage, Jesus avoided the big show. He told a man he healed from a disfiguring case of leprosy, "Don't tell anyone about this" (Mark 1:44). When he fed an entire convention with one sack lunch, it was his grand moment: the people wanted to make him king. He walked away (John 6:15).
The thought of being hidden—unnoticed and overlooked—slays us. Let's be honest—it's hard to serve when our ministry goes unnoticed.
Most of us can endure being unnoticed for a time. We write the fantasy headline: "Gifted Person Who Labored in Obscurity for Years Now Tapped for Major Spot." But when God hides us for years on end, and when others are praised and promoted and invited, it feels like our life is worthless.
But true service is often hidden. God seems to delight in placing his treasures not in a display case but in a dark corner of a drawer. This truth gives us wisdom: when certain gifts rightly attract attention, we won't make the fatal mistake of thinking that being known is better. Enjoyable, yes, and necessary, sometimes, but spiritually hazardous. The fact that we still long to be noticed is evidence enough that it would harm us spiritually.
If we're hidden, we're not forgotten by God. He places us, as Oswald Chambers writes, "where we may bring him the most glory, and we are no judges of where that is."1