on a Loud World and a Quiet Voice
The world is so loud.
All it takes is the push of a button for noise to come crashing in like an unrelenting waterfall. My car has a button that funnels popular music and obnoxious advertisements through my speakers. My remote control has a button than transforms my television from a sedentary black square into a theater filled with perpetually changing sounds and scenes. My laptop has a button that connects it to every opinion, production, and scrap of knowledge possessed by mankind.
That’s insane. There is a time within living memory when carrier pigeons were a viable means of communication; today a handful of devices found in most American homes are capable of sending messages across the world in less time than it takes to address an envelope. My toaster cannot yet access the Internet, but it is only a matter of time. Every day technology makes mind-boggling leaps and bounds into areas previously considered impossible—and every day, it grows increasingly intertwined with our lives.
A still small voice
I’m reminded somewhat of Elijah’s encounter with God, when God called him to “‘stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave” (1 Kings 19:11-13).
It was all so much noise, so much spectacle, so much distraction. What Elijah really needed to focus on was not the sight of the fire, or the sounds of the wind, or the rumblings of the earthquake. What God called him to that mountain to hear was instead a still small voice. God’s still small voice.
Elijah had winds and fires and earthquakes; we have Facebook and primetime TV and Candy Crush. These things aren’t wrong in and of themselves. They’re not inherently evil, but, like the things Elijah saw from atop the mountain, the Lord is not in them. When our time is filled mostly with the distractions—the parts of life that don’t contain God or Godly things—then we’ll start to notice that we’re hearing less and less of that still small voice. It’s not God getting quieter; it’s us getting louder.
Our Creator will not shout above the world in order to be heard. He wants to speak with us, but the words He wants us to hear are ones that will only do us good when we are willing to hear them. If the noise you let in is too chaotic to hear your own thoughts, how can you expect to hear God? To focus on the still small voice of the Lord, we must first quiet ourselves and shut out the noise of the world.
Filling a hole
There exists within every human being a kind of vacuum. It isn’t comfortable. If anything, it’s unsettling—part of our very being, empty and crying out to be filled. The natural inclination is to fill it, and the myriad of stuff in the world seems like such a perfect fit. Even as converted, baptized Christians, it can be hard to resist filling that vacuum with the distractions around us—but somewhere around our third time breaking our own highscore in Angry Birds, we become aware of the nagging realization that all these distractions aren’t filling anything. They only convince us to look the other way while the real problem worsens.
That vacuum within the inner parts of our being was designed to be, can only be, filled by God. Nothing the world has to offer, no matter how flashy, no matter how impressive, no matter how advanced, can fill that void. It’s God and God alone. If you want to try and fill it with other things, He won’t stop you from drowning out His still small voice while you seek out your own solution, but the end result will be the same. Until you tell the world you have more important things to do and begin to diligently seek after what that still small voice has to say, your vacuum will only tug at your consciousness harder and harder.
The world is so loud…but that doesn’t mean we’re obligated to listen to it. There are better things to give our attention to—and those things begin and end with God.
Until next time,
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