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The First Fruit of Hiddenness
"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John" (Matt. 3:13). Finally, after years of disciplined waiting, Father God has an unusual answer for Jesus' usual question. "So ... are we there yet, Father?" Jesus might have offered as He concluded His morning prayers.

"Actually, we are," replied Father God.

"We are? We are ... there?!" Jesus asked.

"In a word: yes. Today is the day, Son. Leave Your tools on the table. I've made an appointment for You with a holy man in camel's hair."

There.

Where is there for you? What do you think it will feel like? There, for Jesus, was a miraculous but misunderstood journey toward a splintered, bloodied cross.

Leaving His hometown, Jesus' steps must have been filled with thought. On the other side He would encounter Cousin John, an odd but strangely endearing, organic fellow. Sincere souls by the hundreds were drawn to John's raw, unedited call to repentance.

Imagine how Jesus must have felt when He arrived at the Jordan, saw the crowds and heard John yell out, "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him" (Luke 3:4). After waiting 30 years, most of us would have exploded with tearful emotion: "Here I am! I have finally come. God sent me to bring you new life!"

But not Jesus. Instead, He calmly navigated His way through the people and waded into the Jordan toward John. No parade. No drum roll. Not even an explanation. Only John knew the truth about the sinless One standing before him.

How could He do that? Especially after waiting for decades, how could He not immediately let the people know who He really was and all that was in His heart?

Jesus' anonymous season had prepared Him for this moment. The choices He made in the Jordan River are reflections of choices He made before the Jordan River. Something in surrendering to hiddenness strengthened Jesus not to make a name for Himself. Something in embracing that prolonged season of obscurity enabled Him to appear to be less in order to be able to do more.

Hidden years, when heeded, empower a soul to patiently trust God with their press releases. Waiting actually grants us the strength to wait a little longer and not rush God's plans for our lives.

God's Words for the Hidden
As Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove (Mark 1:10).

With a prayer in His heart, Jesus broke through the surface and saw the Holy Spirit descend from a tear in the heavens "in bodily form like a dove" (Luke 3:22).

Imagine! The curtains were drawn. The blessing had been given. Now Father God had something He wanted to say.

Perhaps you, like me, have never heard an audible voice from God. But if your ears were going to hear God's voice only once, what would you want Him to say?

Would you want Him to explain pain or answer a burning question? Would you prefer clear direction or insight into the future? Jesus and John could certainly have benefited from all of the above. But evidently there was something they both needed to hear even more:

"And a voice from heaven said, 'This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased'" (Matt. 3:17).

A wise friend once noted that God spoke these words before Jesus had ever done anything for which we call Him Savior. True. God sounded His affirmation over Jesus' life before Jesus ever preached one sermon or enlightened one mind; before Jesus ever healed one body or saved one soul.

These loving words were spoken over Jesus' hidden years. God declared His full acceptance and pride over what Jesus had become through His anonymous season. In unseen places over underestimated years, Jesus had been making unrecorded, unapplauded choices that had prepared Him for everything to come. And Father God—who values the seen and unseen alike—was very, very pleased.

Through Jesus, we inherit this affirmation from above, for God is still shouting these words of love over us even before we are recognized or celebrated, before we make the grade or make the news or even make dinner. Before we get that promotion or even get out of bed, Father God is already shouting. Not because of any stunning accomplishment but because of who we are: Through Jesus, we are His!

May God's affirmation from above echo today in your soul: "I love you My child, My friend. With you I am well pleased."

Is there anything else in the whole wide world that our souls truly need to hear?

Read a companion devotional.

Alicia Britt Chole is a conference speaker and the author of several books.

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