Saturday, July 6, 2013

Turning Off the Noise

On a recent evening, I got tired of the noise from the television and clicked the red button on the remote to turn it off, mostly because I wanted to read a magazine and could not focus.  When I did, I made a startling discovery.  There was a bird singing a beautiful song in the woods at the end of our street.  I had not heard it with the TV on.  It was a sweet sound indeed and brought me back in time to summer evenings spent outside playing as a child.  I lay there lost in my childhood for a few minutes, and then I began to wonder what the bird has singing about.  As time passed and I sat in the quiet of my room, the bird’s song gave way to the sound of peepers and the critters that only come out at night.  It was then that I realized I would have missed that bird’s song if I hadn’t turned off the television.  I sadly realized that I don’t often take the time to sit in the quiet and listen to those sweet sounds.

Noise.  It’s something we live with every day of our lives, from the people around us to the radio to the television.  A phone ringing, the toilet flushing and the dishwasher running, even the buzz of an electric toothbrush!  The hush of a pen as it brushes across a piece of paper is a sound I love to hear.   There are important noises in our lives, though, not just the irritating ones.  The cry of a distressed child allows us to know they need comforting.  Hearing someone we care about tell us how much they love and miss us when they are far away.  And, of course, hearing the word of God preached brings the sinner to repentance and strengthens the believer.  But we have grown so accustomed to the noise around us that we tune most of it out and do not realize that we have little times of quiet in life.  We live with lots of noise and little quiet.  It’s as if the noise absorbs us and we become a part of it.  Sometimes it is as if a great swirling ocean of waves surrounds us, sucks us in, and just becomes “how it is”.  Other times, life is a constant crashing of waves on the shore that becomes a part of life,  making us soon we forget that there ever was anything such as quiet, causing us to miss too many beautifully peaceful moments in life.

Sometimes, though, it isn’t just the constant sounds around us that keep us from enjoying peace and quiet.  Our minds become a cacophony of things to do, problems and situations well beyond our control that we are trying to solve, and the overwhelming realization that we are just TIRED and, sadly, there is no end in sight.  No rest.  No peace.  Nothing but a busy, noisy, life.  Things of life just swirl round and round, like a whirlpool, constant motion and roaring, always pulling us downward, drowning us.  And if we scream for help, no one is there to help us because they are caught up in their own noisy whirlpool.  How many of us go to bed every night and cannot sleep because our brains, like the whirlpool, “just won’t stop”?  The noises of the mind are worse than any outward noises we deal with every day.  Most of those we can walk away from, turn off, or unplug.  Too bad we can’t do that with the noises in our minds!  Or can't we? 

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

If you read this entire Psalm, it begins with the Psalmist telling of his trust in God, even if he were surrounded on all sides by turmoil, the world crashing down around him.  He declares that God is a refuge, strength, and help in trouble.  Twice he proclaims that “the LORD of hosts is with us”.  And in conclusion is a commanded to come to a state where we let go and realize just who is in control.  God commands us to cease from our worry, let go of fear, admit our weakness and dependence on Him, and to acknowledge that He is in control of everything.  We have the choice of being consumed by the noise of our thoughts and lives or living in complete and total trust of God. 
This verse does not mean that we stop and just sit.  It's an invitation to enjoy the calmness and quiet that accompanies a familiar, trusting relationship with God.  Notice the order the command:  be still and know.  We can't know what He is capable of until we let go and allow Him to work.  If we were to know before we let go, what kind of faith is that?  It isn't.  Some people call it blind faith.  I don't know about all that, but I do know that it's when we are blind that He allows us to see.  Those who think they must see to be able to know are truly the blinded ones.  When we can admit that we know little or nothing is the time that we are best able to learn.  And when we can admit that we don't have the slightest clue about how to fix all of the problems in our lives, that is when we come to know that we can truly trust God.  In other words, being still leads to knowing we can trust Him.  Without all of the fear and worry making all sorts of noise in life, we are able to focus on Him.  We are able to recognize that He is there because the distractions are gone.  Just as I could not hear the bird singing until I turned off the television, we cannot notice God at work until we quiet our minds.

So I want to challenge you for the next time you are tempted to let the noise of life take over.  Remember that life and the mind do not have to be whirlpools of constant thought, filled with the noise of fear and worry and dread.  You have the power switch to turn off all of that noise and enjoy, like I was able to, peace, quiet, and a beautiful song.  It's just a matter of being willing to be still and know.
Love in Christ,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog is simply lovely.