[box] Read chapter 3 in Journeys of Faithfulness.[/box] As I was preparing for our Journeys of Faithfulness study this past week, the Lord took me in a direction I was not anticipating orplanning. (I love how He does that!) As is often the case, He surfaced for me an area that I have always struggled with. You probably struggle with it too.
As a mom, I know literal noise. I've got two boys, and they make plenty of it. But what I'm really struggling with is the silent noise. You know what I'm talking about? E-noise, if you want specifics.
I hide out in my bedroom and what do I do? I pull out my iPad and absorb myself in a story. I check my email for messages. I browse on Pinterest--most of the time, not out of necessity, but just to see if there's anything interesting. I read Facebook statuses to see what my friends are up to.
Talking, talking, everywhere talking. Only now, it's not face to face with a friend, but virtually--online, texting, blogging (yes, I know I'm adding to the noise). We are always "plugged in" lest we miss out. And we wouldn't want that, would we?
What really brought me up short is realizing how much more time I spend with virtual people than I do with real people. Worse yet, how much time I spend with God.
Because I do not live in a vacuum, who I become is largely dependent on who I am listening to the most. If my silent moments are filled with the voices of others, whether it be a Pin or a status update, I quickly begin to measure myself with those standards. Inevitably, I will feel like a failure.
When I realized this, I thought--Wouldn't it be better to let my Creator define me? Wouldn't it be wiser to go to Him to determine what I need to be doing? To do this, I need to spend time listening to Him instead of all those other voices. Of course, the obvious problem is: where will I find the time to do this?
The answer, I think, is actually very simple. You ready for this?
I said simple. I didn't say easy.
How do you do this? Try fasting from the computer for a day. If that's too long, try half a day or even three hours. Just turn the computer off (or simply don't turn it on). If needed, tell your friends what you are doing (and bravely resist the comments and complaints you might hear) so they don't think you're mad at them. This includes any type of screens or devices: phones, radios, computers, tablets, video games, you name it.
In this week's reading, Sarah Clarkson writes this:
“If we want to be as Mary in our own time, I think we must understand that the choice to know God is ours. The Spirit of God is alive and calling out from the very core of our hearts. We have the Bible available to us, and we can offer a prayer at any moment. But the great requirement is that we be still enough to listen. We must hush our hearts every day so that we can learn, hear, and follow.” (emphasis mine)
Lest you think I am advocating being a hermit, please allow me to put this in perspective. I am not saying that all technology and social media is wrong. Far from it. I love being able to interact with others, even when I cannot see them. I have had opportunities to minister and speak to people across the world and people I've never even met. Our advances today hold so much potential for good.
But as with all good things, it is only one small step from good to god. Our goal is not simply to unplug, for if left alone, the vacuum will quickly be filled with other things. Instead, let's use the space that is freed up for something infinitely more satisfying--connecting with our Maker. Instead of reading words on a screen, I can interact with the Word of life. Instead of griping on my Facebook status, I can pour out my griefs to one who can actually help me. We need the silence so we can hear the whisper of His voice.
And then, when it's time, we can plug back in again. And this time, instead of being the victim, the follower, God can use me to be a positive influence, a blessing, a minister. This is my prayer every time I update, post, write or pin. When I have been quiet with God, He gives me something worthwhile to share. When I pull back to let Him fill me with Himself, I have much more of value to give to those around me.
And that's not a bad tradeoff for a little bit of quiet.
- How noisy is your life? Step back and observe your own day from an outsider's perspective. How much time do you spend texting, surfing, socializing…?
- What is your response to quiet? Fear? Discomfort? Awkwardness? Do these responses drive you to fill up your quiet moments?
- Plan a day (or whatever is a stretch for you) of quiet for the express purpose of spending it with God. Journal. Meditate on Scripture. Process with Him. Ask Him to show you what He is doing in your life.