In the sacred narratives that crisscross the pages of Scripture, we’re drawn to the towering figures – the Moseses, the Davids, the Pauls.
Their dramatic tales of divine encounters, fervent prayers, and dramatic interventions capture our imaginations. But what of those who dwell in the margins, whose stories remain untold, whose ministries echo in silence? The reality for many who believe they are called by God, especially as prophets, is not always one of obvious significance, but often of obscurity.
You may be able to relate to this – you’re convinced of a divine calling, a prophetic ‘mantle’ placed upon your shoulders. Yet, decades slide by, and the heavens seem silent. There’s no public outlet to your ministry, no congregation hanging onto your every word. Instead, there’s a persistent stillness, a quiet that sometimes borders on deafening. The signs of your calling seem all but absent. Despite maybe having been a shepherd to a flock, or a bible group leader, the broader church remains seemingly indifferent to your voice.
It’s in these shadowy corners of ministry that discouragement can quickly take root. The vivid dreams of youth – of speaking life into congregations, of guiding God’s people through turbulent times – seem to fade into the distance. Questions arise. Did I mishear God? Was my sense of calling misplaced? Is there something amiss in me that disqualifies me from my prophetic ministry?
Yet, interspersed in this solitude are moments of piercing clarity. Moments where God’s voice breaks through, giving specific words for individuals or the church. They are not grand prophecies that would echo through megaphones or be declared from pulpits, but they are no less significant. They’re precise, intimate, and surgically accurate, revealing the heart of God to a person or situation.
These moments, while profound, are also paradoxical. They reaffirm the prophetic call but also underline the isolation. The journey becomes a crucible, shaping, refining, and moulding the prophet in obscurity.
What then, is one to do in this crucible?
Embrace the Hiddenness:
Much like the 30 silent years of Jesus’ life before His public ministry, there’s profound value in hiddenness. It’s a space free from the trappings of fame, where one can cultivate an authentic relationship with God without the distractions of public affirmation.
Engage with Scripture and Writings:
A life of obscurity doesn’t equate to a life of idleness. This time can be a gift, a chance to delve deep into God’s Word and expand one’s understanding through wide reading. To be equipped and ready, even if the call to step into the limelight never comes.
Cultivate Faithfulness in Small Things:
True prophetic ministry is as much about character as it is about gifting. The small acts of obedience, the faithful ministering to a single soul, the quiet prayers whispered in secret – these shape a prophet as much as, if not more than big moments of public ministry.
Even in the quiet, God provides companions for the journey. Seek them out. They may not fully understand the intricacies of your call, but they can offer support, encouragement, and a listening ear.
Stay Open to God’s Redefinition:
God’s ways are not our ways. Our understanding of what it means to be a prophet may need to evolve. It may not be about public speaking engagements but rather personal, intimate revelations that bring transformation one life at a time.
For those who walk this lonely road, it’s worth remembering that obscurity in the eyes of the world (or even the broader church) doesn’t equate to insignificance in the eyes of God. The prophets of old – many of whom faced rejection, solitude, and misunderstanding – now have their words echoed throughout eternity.
Perhaps it’s not about being recognised as a prophet but about being faithful to the call, however that may look. And in that faithfulness, finding the deep, unshakeable affirmation of the One who called you into this mysterious, challenging, yet deeply intimate journey with God.