For the 4th of July weekend, my husband, Tom, and I camped-out with friends who have a place along the Coeur d’Alene River. Not only were we having a terrific time, but the large number of people who floated past us on their variety of inner tubes, floating chairs, and kayaks were enjoying themselves, too. By focusing on just one person in each group, I found it easier to discern the degree of fun—or terror—they were having. We could usually tell another group was coming our way by the noise generated—mostly laughter, then shrieks as they hit the faster water just past our campsite. Noise…hm…
In the middle of the first night, I stumbled across the dew-wetted grass to check-out the outhouse. Fortunately, Susan’s bear figure held a solar lantern to light my way in the dark. On my way back to the tent, at first I glanced skyward, and then I found myself frozen in the middle of their lawn, awe-struck at seeing the Milky Way and millions of stars lighting the sky. Breathing in deeply this sight of God’s creation, I wanted to hug the beauty of the sky! I found myself searching for familiar constellations, thinking that I’d compare Coeur d’Alene’s sky to the sky in my recent home of Sitka, Alaska. But, where the heck were the constellations??? I was surprised to discover that there were so many stars that it was difficult to differentiate the constellations amidst the backlight of the Milky Way! Finally, with a lightened heart at the wonder of God’s creation, I almost skipped back to my tent. Before dropping off to sleep in my snug sleeping bag, I gave abundant thanks for all that He has made! But, visual noise…hm…
Did you know that most birds wake up at 4:00am? And, they don’t just flit about quietly looking for that insect or worm, they need to tell the world that they’re awake. The cacophony of bird calls was startling—the noise! Whoa! Settle down, birds! Luckily, though, after pulling the covers over my ears, I was able to drift back into sleep. Nature’s noise…hm…
Lately, Kenny Chesney has gotten me thinking more about all of the noise in my life. His country song, not surprisingly titled, “Noise!” bemoans all of the noise we are subjected to in the modern age: 24-hour television so loud that no one listens, no real conversation, trapped in our phones, and we can’t make it stop… “Just tryin’ to be heard in all this noise.”
Not all of the noise is negative, of course: those revelers on rafts, identifying constellations among myriad stars, birds proclaiming the start of a new day. But, we are surrounded by almost constant noise!
Probably the most consistent noise I experience, though, is inside my own head. I can go down so many “rabbit holes” and in so many tangential directions with my thoughts that I can easily become overwhelmed with too much noise stirring inside! So, how do we sort through the sound to find our quiet time?
In Mark 6:31, we learn that even Jesus needed quiet time, time to recharge His internal batteries. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” And, of course, so do we need that quiet time!
Perhaps the best mental rest I get is when I pray. I try very hard to clear out the noise in my head and shut out the surrounding sounds and just focus on God. I can feel like the waves in Mark 4:39, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” That is akin to what happens to me when I pray: I become completely calm, completely focused. The noise settles.
The Bible is such an amazing guideline for our lives! The Thessalonians were reminded in 1Th 4:11 to continue to love one another, and then Paul further instructs them, “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life…” Yes, what a constant struggle for me, but a wonderful goal.
And, Paul wrote these words (1Tim 2:2) during the time that the murderous emperor Nero was in power, “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Ah, need we be reminded of our special need for quiet, peaceful strength in today’s trying times?
Peter, after struggling through his own self-correction, wrote in 1Peter 3:4 that beauty “…should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
The noise around and inside of us can be an unending distraction, but I will continue to strive for that internal quiet, to find myself more at peace.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.”—Jesus (John 14:27)
Peace be with you – Emily Rogers