To Delight in Hiddenness

By Francis Frangipane

The desire to be acknowledged and appreciated by others is basic to human nature. Jesus Himself seemed somewhat troubled that, after healing ten lepers, only one returned to give thanks (Lk 17). Yet, while the need to be occasionally appreciated is not sin, it can become sin when we begin seeking recognition. We must determine that our service to mankind is guided by a higher, more focused obedience to God.

Jesus lived solely for the glory of God. We, however, too often seek the glory and praise of man. In spite of the fact that Jesus repeatedly affirmed that the Father, who sees in secret, will reward us openly (Matt 6), we remain offended if we do not receive credit for our good deeds. This quest for recognition can become a source of wrong motives and failed endeavors; it can give a place to jealousy, pride and selfish ambition if we are not careful.
I wish I could say I have never walked in this type of human weakness, but that would be untrue. In fact, I experienced something a few years ago that, though quite painful at the time, ultimately unfolded into a wonderful revelation concerning the nature of the Holy Spirit. Yet, before I proceed, let me state that to share this publicly requires I make my own frailties visible before you. So, please grant me your grace.

The scene was the 1996 Promise Keeper's Atlanta convocation for pastors. This event was the largest gathering of pastors in North American history -- more than 40,000 ministers united from a great variety of backgrounds and cultures. It featured two themes in which I had been quite active: unity and reconciliation. Although I had been instrumental in bringing thousands of pastors together in hundreds of cities, I had not been asked to participate in this conference. Although I mentioned my dilemma to no one, the lack of recognition was producing an ever deepening disturbance in my thought life.

I decided that, even though I had not been asked to serve, I would go to the conference. However, I relegated my struggle to a secret chamber in my soul, a place where wounds are stored while I continue on in God. I thought that perhaps, once I reached the conference, the Lord would open a door and call me to contribute more visibly.

But no door opened. Pastors who were familiar with my work would ask, "So, why aren't you speaking at this conference?" I'd smile and respond, "This must increase and I must decrease."

While my answer was both humble and sincere, I was becoming much more humble than I planned. The fact was, I was asking myself the same question: Why wasn't I speaking? Ghosts of past rejections began to manipulate my fears. So, while I attended the ministers' conference and truly rejoiced in the unity, I felt detached from it. I watched a spiritual dream that I carried in my soul emerge and take form, only to find myself floating, dreamlike, outside of the fulfillment. I was simultaneously deeply blessed and throughly miserable.

Finally, I laid my soul bare to a couple of friends. "What should I do?" I asked. "If I promote myself, God stands against me; if I remain silent, I sacrifice my contribution to this historic event." If nothing else, I knew the Lord was crucifying my pride and fleshly ambition. Indeed, beyond a legitimate desire to stir pastors toward greater unity, I must admit that there was another part of me that desired personal recognition.

The conference came and went, but my inner struggle stayed with me. After several months I successfully buried the conflict beneath my everyday thoughts. I was going on with my life. However, in May, the issue resurfaced, this time to be wonderfully resolved. I was at a Mission America meeting in Washington, D.C. listening as a friend shared over lunch how the Lord used other leaders to lay foundations in his life. As we talked, I began to see that I was not outside of what God was doing, but underneath it. My labors in Christ (and those of many others) were part of a divine substructure upon which this current work was unfolding. The efforts of those who serve in high visibility today will likely become foundations for greater works by others tomorrow. I felt I was beginning to understand my role in the context of God's unfolding kingdom. I was even able to look at my own life and see individuals whose teachings and spiritual examples had become foundations in me -- people whom I also had never thanked or acknowledged.

My need for recognition had diminished greatly, yet the Holy Spirit had something vital to add to me. That evening, as I sought God, I confessed my sin of seeking recognition. Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart a simple question concerning Himself. He asked, "Do you know My name?"

This was a God-moment, where one small introductory thought floods the soul with a river of revelation. I knew the primary revelation of the Father's name was Yahweh and the name of the Son, of course, is Jesus. I recalled all the "compound names" of God in the Bible, but again could not identify the actual name of the Holy Spirit. It struck me as profound that, in a lifetime of ministry, I could not remember once reading or hearing a teaching about the name of the Holy Spirit. I saw that every good work, every miracle of grace, every spiritual advancement I obtained, even those that came in spite of myself, had occurred through the work of the Holy Spirit. Yet, He never drew attention to Himself, choosing instead to direct my praise toward the Father or the Son. Amazingly, for all His work, I did not know His name or think to ask Him!

Then the revelation gloriously expanded. Suddenly, I realized that everything that was accomplished worldwide was the result of the Holy Spirit. Not one genuine virtue emerged in anyone apart from His working, whether it was concerning the prayer movement, reconciliation between denominations and races, the renewal, various revivals that had sprung forth throughout the world, or the increasing harvest of the nations -- all was the work of the Holy Spirit. Yet, no one knew His name!

Still He was not done with me. I was even more astonished when I quickly searched my memory of the Scriptures and, to my knowledge, could recall no prophet, priest or king whom the Holy Spirit inspired to reveal His name! Did I know His name? No! Throughout history, from brooding over the pre-creation universe to strengthening the Son of God at the cross, He had accomplished all the work of the Godhead, yet He never revealed His name.

This truth hit me as a burning revelation. The nature of the Holy Spirit is in stark contrast to our human desires to be seen, praised and recognized. I saw how the Holy Spirit truly, passionately delights in hiddenness.

Then I saw the most wonderful unveiling of all: the passions of the Holy Spirit's heart. Two blazing fires consume His every thought: to see Jesus glorified and the Father's will accomplished on earth. Here, before my eyes, I saw perfect humility and complete obedience -- the God-pattern that would lead me to spiritual rest and maturity.

Beloved, if we would truly be filled with the Spirit, we too must abandon the quest for recognition. God sees and knows our works. Whether or not a promotion comes in this world, the reward we must seek is that which comes from heaven. Until then, let us seek the fulness of the Holy Spirit, whose glorious delight is to work in hiddenness.

Lord, forgive me for seeking recognition from man. Help me blessed Holy Spirit to be filled with Your substance -- Your thoughts and motives, Your contentment and power. Live Your marvelous life of hiddenness through us that Jesus may truly be glorified and the Father's will be fully accomplished.