Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Finding God Within the Noise

We live in a noisy world. In fact, if you're anything like me, we encourage the noise. I must be on the e-mail list of 200 different stores, businesses, and newsletters. I follow 543 Instagram accounts, have 2412 "friends" on Facebook, and subscribe to dozens of blogs. When I get in my car, I have the choice of AM, FM, XM, CD, or a seemingly endless number of choices from my phone including Pandora, I Heart Radio, or MP3 music. We have more than 1000 channels on our television, not including On Demand, DVR, and Amazon Prime. I can purchase anything I want or need with one-click from my mobile phone, and it will be on my doorstep in a matter of days. My phone vibrates at least 500 times each day, and only stops at night because I silence it (when I remember). There is no doubt the demands are long and our attention spans short.

So where, in this loud demanding world, do we find the one true God who waits patiently for His children to seek Him (Luke 11:9-10)?

I spent the long Labor Day weekend at Table Rock Lake with family and friends who might as well be family. It was a perfect weekend, filled with good food, lots of laughs, sunny weather, a new boat, and above all - quiet. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't the kind of quiet you'd find in a library or an Italian chapel as guests are hushed by guards. Instead, this is soul quiet. The kind of quiet where God's voice gets really loud. This is the kind of quiet I can find only when I leave my phone upstairs, turn the wi-fi off on my iPad, leave the TV covered by a sheet, and escape to the creation that God's given to His children. It's the quiet that silences the motor of the boat when you're sitting up front at twilight floating across an otherwise empty and glassy lake. It's the quiet that fills your soul when you look up at night and see so many stars, they no longer appear as individual lights, but instead as a smear of twinkles against a dark backdrop. It's the quiet that speaks right into your soul and makes it easy to breathe again. It's the quiet that reminds me just how small I am against a backdrop of our huge and great God.

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10)

When I let my world get loud, I let my own voice get louder than God's. When the noise is all I hear, I start to believe that my emails, my to-do list, my meetings, my preferences, and my desires are the trump cards on the table. But God calls me to quiet the noise in my life. I used to see Psalm 46 and assume that it referred only to designated "quiet times" when I sat in silence with scripture, listening to and talking with God. I think I was missing part of the picture however. For it is also in times of "quiet," like my weekend at the lake, when I see God's greatness more than ever.

There are very few places left in the world where a person could truly escape all noise. As a result, I think we have to create our own still silence. This is HARD FOR ME. I am addicted to the pull of knowing what's going on and being accessible 24/7, and some days, it sucks the life out of me. Thankfully, we serve a Heavenly Father who knows our needs and provides for His children.

I'm taking a September sabbatical. Sabbatical, derived from the word sabbath, describes a need to build periods of rest and rejuvenation into a lifetime. My prayer is that this "white space" I'm building into my life this month will not only renew me, but will renew those around me. My prayer is that in the void, I will be a better friend, a better wife, a better daughter, a better listener. My hope is that I not only focus on doing things, but being still. Quiet the noise and see what you'll hear.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness, for his name's sake...Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of The Lord forever." (Psalm 23:1-3,6).

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