So last night at small group bible study we watched a Rob Bell video called Noise. It was talking about the things that are distractions in our lives that keep us from hearing God’s voice. The video starts as if we were the television screen that he was watching from the couch in his living room. After speaking for a few moments about the noise in our lives, he flipped the television off. ALL went black! Silence. The room immediately became uncomfortable in reaction to the statement of the video. Inevitably, someone broke the silence with a few comments before we could even figure out what was going on. Soon enough words flashed upon the screen, no commentary, no music accompaniment. I found it very interesting that the video was trying to get across the point of noise and silence and throughout the video there was no a moment of consistent silence. Noise from outside mowers, a running air cast machine, the air condition coming on, and natural human breathing infiltrated the room.
It made me think about the noise in My life. I know that my daily routine is filled with noise. I find it very difficult to sit in silence…I can’t even sleep without the sound of the fan running. Some of the distraction noise is intentional and some of it can’t be helped from the surroundings we find ourselves in. A friend even made a comment during the evening that we can’t even really get away from the noise…even out in the wilderness, planes still fly over or trains still sound in the distance. I laughed at this thought, but also recognized that he had an excellent point. Noise…distraction is all around us. Bombarding all of our senses! And reality is that it will never totally go away ever…it will actually continue and increase with time!
So what are these distractions? Let’s list them…
Television – a long time favorite
Computers – it is the age
Cell Phones – permanent attachments now a day
A packed and busy schedule
Everyday Life Circumstances
Why do we avoid silence? See, I think we look at this idea of silence in the wrong way. Walter Bagehot put it this way – “An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.”
Why is this the case?
Several things pop into my mind. One is that I’m scared of what the silence will reveal. Will God lead me or tell me something that I don’t want to hear or do? Or two, that I just don’t know How to sit and be in silence with God. It is a foreign concept. But these “reasons” to avoid the silence are the distractions of our lives. God wants us to sit with him in silence so that he can speak to us.
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in the noise and restlessness. God is a friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, the sun, how they move in silence…” Mother Teresa
During Jesus’ ministry here on earth he had moments when He needed to get away from the distractions around Him to get rest or regain the right focus with God. In Matthew 14, he had been teaching and healing...he was going to be providing for the five thousand…and received word that one of his beloved; John the Baptist’s life was taken. Vs 13 – “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitude place.” Jesus need time to be with God alone, time to hear the soft voice of His Father speak. He sought solitude, the only way to truly hear Him amongst the happenings of the day. Then after Jesus fed the people, vs. 23 says, “After he dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” Again, we see Jesus retreating to the silence to pray and focus. And in Mark 1:23 – “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Jesus was intentional about finding time to pray and focus on God.
What we don’t often realize without too much thought, is that prayer and time with God is our Lifeline! Think of it like a power source: gas makes cars and other vehicles run/ no gas…no go or electricity – no power/we sit with no access to the things we depend on (like air conditioners here in Houston !)
God is our Power source, our lifeline…taking time to be with him intentionally is what keeps us going and functioning. If we want to be able to do what God wants us to do or hear what God needs us to hear…we have to sit and talk to Him. It may take enduring the silence at first, but then the silence will take on a new form! It will become an experience that we look forward to instead run from, turning to the noise.
Don’t run from the silence to noise…run from the noise to the Silence! The comforting Silence with God!