I cannot believe how noisy my life is.
Sure, there are the every day physical noises that come along with raising four small children. Cries, whines, fights, stomps, squeals, crashes, and deafening thuds accompany my entire waking existence just by virtue of living with preschoolers.
But that’s not the noise I’m talking about.
The noise I hear lives in my brain, and does its best to crowd out coherent thought, peace, prayer, and worship, all of which thrive in silence. This ever present undercurrent noise is formed by the feelings and opinions of the world, poured into me through various media sources. The news, the internet, forums, movies, articles, and blogs. All of the world is online, simultaneously screaming its opinions into the void. And my mind receives and attempts to weigh and digest these opinions daily. There are so many of them. So much confusion. So much hate. So many mothers on forums arguing about the best way to X. So many personalities on articles debating the definition of Y. So many new horrifying realities to worry and wonder over. And my mind receives these thoughts and opinions and facts, balks at the enormous magnitude of them, and can’t even begin to digest them. Instead, they spin around in my brain and bump into one another noisily, forming a horrific cacophony which drowns out my ability to think clearly.
How can I possibly act on any information I receive if I’m constantly and incessantly taking in conflicting information?
As I was sitting down to write this blog post, my brain was screaming with all of this incessant noise, and I couldn’t concentrate. So instead, I went on Facebook (naturally, my biggest noise-source. Like that’s going to solve the problem!) and I vented my frustration with my cluttered brain to a friend. I probably typed 20 paragraphs about everything swimming around in my brain before she responded,
How simple is that? Almost feels TOO simple, doesn’t it? God is our quiet place.
Why am I not with Him in that quiet place? Oh, right. Because I’m filling up my brain and my life with unimportant, non-essential NOISE. I’m pouring my energies into topics and causes that do not matter. I’m exhausting my resources on things which are not beneficial to either me or to my mission.
My friend’s words immediately reminded me of the story in 1 Kings of the time the Lord appeared to the prophet Elijah.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 kings 19:11-13)
God presented all manner of wild and noisy phenomena to Elijah, from a wind to an earthquake, to a fire, but the Lord was not present in any of them. Elijah did not find the Lord in the rage and the power and the noise. He found God in the whisper. When all was quiet, save a gentle whisper, then God spoke to Elijah.
I often drown out God’s message with the noise in my life. I cannot hear what He is trying to tell me if I fill my ears and eyes and other senses with the noise of this world. Sometimes, this noise FEELS important. It demands attention because it is very loud, or very powerful. But not all of it can actually be important for me or my mission. I need to learn to employ a filter, to limit my time spent ingesting information, and to quiet my brain and the noise in my life so that I can hear the Lord’s “gentle whisper” speaking to me.