He emigrated with his family from the country of Germany. The boat they sailed across the Atlantic was described as a sail boat, which no doubt made for a perilous voyage even for an adventurous young boy. His father believed in education, and saw to it that his growing family of children—there would be 11 in all—attended school through 12th grade.
After his education he worked as a collar maker for a local clothier. But that wasn’t all he accomplished. He pitched for his city’s baseball team too. It was a team that saw several members become major league players before 1900, as well as boasting some of Olympic talent. He held a swim record for his city, swimming the large river that fed into the Mississippi from one of that city’s bridges to the other.
He had the potential of leaving behind quite a legacy– perhaps he would have been known in the baseball world even to this day. But it was not to be. He fell through ice while hunting in December, 1886, and was drowned at just 21 years old. Other than a few family members who are interested in genealogy, his name has been forgotten in time.
To be obscure is to be known to few, or be understood by few. It does not sound like something to be desired. Who wants to think they will be forgotten? Yet the wise know that to fulfill God’s work in their life is to be remembered by Him. For the believer in Christ, it is the obtaining of everything—success. It does not matter what is accomplished, or how noted the accomplishments. It matters only that they were obedient to His call for them.
It may encourage anyone who still wants to run from obscurity to consider some obscure men who obeyed God anyway; their names are written in the greatest Book:
- Jethro: As Moses’ father-in-law, he was in the shadow of a great man whose name is known by people all around the world hundreds of years after his death. Still, Jethro fulfilled an important role in Moses’ life by reminding him in Exodus, chapter 18, that he could not fulfill his God-given destiny unless he delegated responsibilities and kept focus on what only he was called to do.
- Elishama: His is a name most don’t remember even if they have read Jeremiah, chapter 36, where he is listed as a secretary/scribe to the king. But in 1986, hundreds of years after his death, a clay seal was found near Jerusalem with the inscription “Elishama, servant of the king.” This obscure man was used by God even after his death to prove the truth of Scripture by a mere clay seal that had survived centuries.
- Ehud: Another name most wouldn’t even associate with the bible. But in Judges, chapter 3, he slayed the king of the Moabites with an 18 inch sword and helped bring victory to Israel.
Most of us are like Jethro, Elishama, and Ehud. We will never be famous for our works, and our names will one day be forgotten. But if we have served God and followed the path He prepared for our life, we will have been anything but obscure to Him!
Do you ever feel insignificant? Do you compare yourself to the more successful? What is God prompting you to do today to fulfill His purposes for your life?