Cindy and I get away several times a year to some quiet place. Each time, we are freshly amazed by the contrast of the city noise we’d grown accustomed to and the calming, peaceful sounds of nature. Without all the noise, it is really quite incredible what you can hear and taste. The coffee tastes better, the food tastes better, the sleep is better. Ahhhh.
But noise comes in other forms too; mind-spinning, crazy-making noise. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes sub-consciously insidious. Recognizing the bad news about “noise” as the enemy of all the good God has for us is a crucial step towards being ready and willing for the good news, the solution (which is discussed at the very end so be sure to keep reading).
The constant connectivity and bombardment of media is a significant “noise”, most often inducing degrees of anger or fear directly correlated to our degree of exposure.
Job situations can be a source of discouraging and depressing “noise”, hard to turn off even on vacation, lingering in our minds and tainting everything. I get it. I have been there. Even as I write this, someone contacted me about the stress of their job and the ridiculous 80-90 hours a week they are required to work!!! What? Now that is loud!
Sickness, strained relationships, deep wounds, death in our families are an ever-present “noise”, consuming our thoughts and sometimes incapacitating us with great sadness.
Money challenges are huge noisemakers as well and can lead to desperation, guilt and hopelessness. Ugh!!
Broken relationships are like a computer whirring because it’s processing too many things at once. If we don’t address the issues, our souls can get bogged down and our relationship with God hindered. You know what I am talking about. We’ve all been there.
Noise, whether literal or figurative, can keep us awake at night and the lack of sleep fuels the noise even more.
I was sitting around a table with my worship team about a month ago and the noise of life came up. That noise was in all different forms. Some tears were shed as people shared their stories. And we prayed.
Now for the good news! It will take faith, effort, time, and commitment, but I am living proof that it works! Most of us have heard this before, but I hope you will “hear” it in a fresh new way and reap the benefit!
Staying connected to God, the source of life, and His people, is the only way to rise above the noise that plagues us.
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” John 15:5-8 MSG*
I Cor 12:25-27 (MSG) expounds on our life as a branch: “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part….You are Christ’s body--that’s who you are….Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.
As followers of Jesus, we are not immune from the stresses of life, but we do have a source of life, answers and hope – the Vine! But what does this look like in day-to-day, practical life?
Here’s a (non-exhaustive) checklist* we’ve found helpful to pinpoint and remedy disturbing noise in our lives. These questions are based on scriptural principles, “spiritual laws of nature” of sorts.
- As far as it is up to me, are there any broken relationships in my life? Do I need to make amends to anyone?
- Is there anyone I refuse to forgive, even though God is present right now to help me through the process?
- Is there anything I know deep down to be sin or disobedience that is now just a normal, accepted part of my life? (ie “it’s just who I am”)
- How much good input/influences am I intentionally taking in versus denial or pride which says “I’m too busy, I’m strong enough, I don’t need…”
- Am I putting the Lord first in my life in every area and spending time with Him consistently not just when I feel like it and it’s convenient?
- With God’s help, am I changing the things that I can and accepting the things that I cannot change? (Serenity Prayer*)
- Am I isolating or trying to walk alone in the “noise” rather than receiving God’s hand of help through other people AND, in turn, allowing Him to use me to help others?
- What does God’s Word have to say about this particular “noise”? Have I asked believingly for wisdom?
- In a noisy situation, is my dominant desire to develop the character of Christ or to just be happy?
- Do I tend to measure people and situations by whether they please me or not?
- Am I monitoring my thoughts and feelings? Do I run them through a truth-meter or just allow them to come and go, wreaking havoc as they please?
- We want to continue growing in this area and welcome hearing your experiences and insights.
*You can find a printable of each of these items in the printable “aisle” of our web store.