…after the strong wind and earthquake…after the earthquake a fire…after the fire a still small voice… 1 Kings 19:11-12
It was a fun evening and a fairly common one around our house. Our oldest was home from her first year of college. Our youngest was out his admissions application and would leave for college at the end of the summer. But for that moment they were home.
Our place was a gathering spot for their friends. We liked it that way, not so that we could keep an eye on them, but because we enjoyed listening to the laughter and chatter of a house full of young adults. There can be no doubt that their generation has refined the art of multi-tasking as they watched a movie and caught up with stories of college profs, road trips and quirky roommates. I know that doesn’t sound much like multi-tasking, except they were all talking at once, over the blare of the television.
As the evening came to a close so did the roar. The last friend headed home and the house found itself shrouded in silence. I sat in my study chair soaking in the newly acquired tranquility – like the peace that comes when the last Thanksgiving guest goes or the when children are in bed Christmas night. It’s just quiet. It’s a calm that you can feel as it settles in around you. It’s the peacefulness welcomed at the end of a long, busy day.
Such a setting is rare in our day. Consider this, when was the last time you were able to surround yourself with silence? Or is this the routine: put the key in the ignition, fasten the seatbelt, turn on the car…and the radio? You go to the store, the door swooshes open and music flows out enveloping you. You come from work, and somewhere between pulling off your work shoes and changing into your grungies you turn on the TV - just for noise? Traffic sounds invade our homes, sirens shatter our late nights, and train whistles that keep us safe also keep us up. Even now, as I type this page in a quiet room my ears here the constant hum of the cooling fan of my computer. Noise, some of it is beautiful, some annoying, some necessary, some an intrusion, and some a barrier, a booby-trap set by a subtle enemy.
I see you were with me until the barrier and booby-trap part; you’re wondering about that subtle enemy part too. Let me explain; let’s explore this in light of God’s desire. One of God’s great yearnings is for us to know Him. Not to know about Him, most people know about God. One need only look at the plethora of gods worshiped, from wooden totems to work, cast images to cars. People are hard-wired to worship. God knows that humanities’ only hope is found in Him. So God made the way for us to get to know Him and come to Him. That way is through the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
As I come into God’s family through the lifesaving and life-changing power of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, as I become a citizen of God’s Kingdom through His sin-cleansing blood, I also begin a lifelong journey into intimacy with God. On the journey of the narrow road, God invites me to get to know Him more deeply, more intimately, to see Him more clearly. God has given people a way to do this.
He gives us His Holy Spirit who, as Jesus promised, leads us into all truth. He gives us His Word, the Bible, as a guide for living and source for knowing Him. The psalmist wrote, “I will hide Your word in my heart so that I might not sin against You….Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:11 and 105).
God gives us quiet times with Him, times spent in study and prayer. He gives us His church with whom we gather for learning, worship and encouragement. He gives us Christian friends.
I suspect you’re wondering what this has to do with noise. Well, as Jesus’ death opened the gate to the narrow road, so His life taught us how to live as we journey toward home. He shows us how to love our neighbor and turn the other cheek. He also shows us that how we need to spend time with the Father. Jesus rose early in the morning and went to a deserted place – a place without distractions (Mark 1:35). Jesus spent whole nights in prayer and there were days when He desired to pull away from the crowd to rest and teach a small group of His closest friends. Jesus demonstrated the value of quiet times spent with His Father.
What this has to do with noise, barriers, booby-traps and the Enemy? Just as Jesus demonstrated how to draw close to the Father and our need for that closeness, Satan was watching and does all he can from keeping it from happening. So, he fills our days with noisy distractions. No doubt Satan was in the back of the cave when God talked to Elijah is a hushed whisper and was watching when Moses stepped away from his flock of sheep to see a burning bush. Satan was there in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed for the strength to follow His Father’s plan. He is always around and he sees how quiet, undistracted time alone with God can change a person or a world. He has learned to fight with noise for he knows that it is hard to hear the quiet voice of God if one’s mind is filled with other sounds; sounds that make it impossible to concentrate when God speaks through His Word or numb my heart and mind to the nudge of God’s Spirit.
So, let’s take some time to turn off the noise that fills our days and nights. Let’s spend time in quietness, listening for the hushed whisper of God.