Shut out the Noise And Listen To God: Daily Devotion - Wednesday, April 20, 2016
I recently did a guided group exercise where we were asked to sit perfectly still with our eyes closed and listen to a piece of stirring music. After the piece ended, we were then asked to describe what we'd heard. Many of the participants described the instruments they heard, or a particular tone in the music.
Then we were asked to listen to the music again in silence, only this time to concentrate on the other sounds in the room. This time participants described hearing coughs, papers rustling, the sounds of voices from other rooms, the air conditioning running in the background, the buzz of lights and electrical equipment.
This exercise helped me to realize something. There is a lot of "white noise" happening around us all of the time. We think we are tuning it out, but are we really? When I lived in downtown Chicago for several years, I recall the city had a particular sound--created cars, sirens, trains, and the like--that was always humming in the background of everything we did. Over time you would tune it out, and just keep doing what you were doing.
It was only when we were away from the city that we were confronted with what felt the the absolute silence of the world around us.
Jesus taught his disciples,
"Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given--and will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them." (Mark 4:24-25)Author Rick Lawrence writes, "Jesus spent more time praying than speaking. His dependent relationship with his Father fueled everything he said and did. He honored the intimacy of his one-on-one relationship with his Father above his teaching, his ministry of healing, and his miracle-working."
All throughout the Gospels, you will find moments where the disciples are having to track Jesus down and then ultimately find him in an eremos topos--a solitary place--praying and listening to God. Which leads all of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus to ask, "If this practice was so vital and necessary for Jesus to hear God's voice--wouldn't it be even more vital and necessary for me?"
Set aside some time today to simply be quiet, and shut out all of the background noise of your life. Spend some time in prayer, journal if that works for you. Read inspirational books or devotions. Open your Bible and begin to read it--start with the Gospels if you can't think of what to read, then move to the Psalms.
But most of all practice active listening. With the noise shut out, you'll have a much better chance of actually listening to God, and even experiencing the presence of Jesus through the power of God's Holy Spirit.
May you pay close attention today to the voice of God speaking all around you, quietly, perhaps on the other side of all of the noise in our life. May you find space to feel peace, and to connect with the Divine. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.