My whole life I’ve cared more about what people think of me than is healthy or helpful. Image management has been my mode as long as I can remember, and I have a pattern of caring more about reputation than I do about reality. In my first days learning to follow Jesus I began to realize how this focus on externals and others’ opinions can infect my faith just as it infects every other relationship and activity.
I write about Jesus, I teach people about Jesus, it is my job to talk to college women about Jesus, weekly and even daily. In these things, I have to keep vigilant watch over my tendency to care more about the outside than the inside. I am called to live my faith out in the open where people can see and invite others to join me, but I need to be very careful that I’m actually living my life with Jesus rather than just talking about Him.
If my first priority is what I can see, what others can see and comment on and measure, I easily lose sight of the things that last, the things that matter, the things God cares about most. I easily lose sight of my heart, which only God truly sees and knows. Matthew 6 teaches me that if my audience is the world, then the praise of the world is the most I’ll ever get. But if God is my first audience, then I get His reward, His notice, His praise.
“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding… Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. Matthew 6:1, 6 (The Message)
I have grown hungry to protect out part of my relationship with Jesus for just me and Him. And I’ve prayed and thought and worked to focus and prioritize and value the things I can’t see over what I can see, touch and measure (hence the name of my blog.)
Over the last year in particular I’ve been seeking hidden places, asking God to meet me in ways I don’t share, that aren’t for public consumption.
Imagine my joy when I learned that one of my favorite writers, a fellow blogger and adoptive parent who has consistently pointed me to Jesus, had a new book coming out called, UNSEEN: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed.
I read this book slow, day by day asking God for a deeper experience of the truth and beauty I’ve found on these pages. In Unseen, Sara Hagerty encourages us to pursue Jesus in hidden places, and she makes me want more of Him.
But she’s also helped me to see how the places where I feel invisible, not good enough, even ignored or overlooked, can be God’s gift to me. These hidden places are invitations to find God’s eyes on me, to let His praise, His notice, His smile, be ENOUGH.
I’m reading this book with several of the college women I mentor this Fall, and I can’t wait to dive deep into this message of a hidden life with Jesus with each of them.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I am so thankful to have received an advance copy of Unseen, but happily it is available to everyone now so that I can share it with you!
If you’d like a copy, you can order it here (or wherever you like to buy books!) And y’all? I noticed the Amazon reviews when I went to get that link: 113 reviews, 99% 5 stars. So I’m not the only one resonating with this message, which is good news for this thirsty world!