I like quiet. Ask why I teach high school, or why I had 3 children, and I will tell you I don’t know- kids are by nature loud. I have a low tolerance for noise; music blaring in the car, the girls yelling up the stairs, motorcycle engines revving- all of that sets me on edge. Noise feels like auditory clutter to me; I have trouble focusing, and I get lost in the midst of it.
What I’ve found is that people are noisy; noise is bossiness, it is demands, it is force. Listen to me. Do this now. Don’t forget _______. The noise comes in many forms- texts, emails, Instagram feeds, business meetings, family dinners, club outings, church services. The clamor of noise demands immediacy and attention; it forces its agenda on you. The noise of people, whether well-intentioned, forceful, or simply neutral, is hard to ignore, but often it should be ignored. We live under clutter and clamor in an effort to do more, to be more, but often it is spinning wheels, it is empty promises, it is busyness without purpose.
As I age, I become less and less willing to listen to the incessant sound of expectations and ideas that overwhelm me. And as I find more opportunities for quiet, I hear more from the One who created me. I know He was there all along. But God is quiet. He is not rattling to-do lists or yelling demands down the stairs. He is at times whispering, at times waiting. He is polite; he does not interfere in my daily clamor without my invitation. So at times there are stretches of silence, not because of Him, but because of me. I let the volume of everything else mask Him. God can speak in thunder and fire and earthquake, but He so often chooses to speak in the still small voice He used with Elijah. And I miss it, so often, because my senses are simply overwhelmed. What is left for Him after the clutter of daily modern life?
But His voice, while soft, is firm. He knows my fears, and He can soothe them. He knows my plans, and He can guide them. He knows my gifts, and He can use them. There is power in silence. Before a storm, there is that moment when all is still. The earth is mustering strength. And so am I. I will fight for stillness in a world of motion, for silence in a nation of noise. And I will muster in that moment all the wisdom and courage that He has for me to move as He asks.
I am working toward simplicity in my faith. We have complicated it all with so much extra. Books, podcasts, meetings, groups- even the good stuff can get in the way. God is stirring us to action, to truth without pretense and works without attention. He is waiting on us, but instead of listening, we are talking, arguing, and attention-seeking. I want to go back to front porch stillness, to expectant listening, to promised answers and direction. I will turn down the volume of the world, and I will listen. Because the world is loud, but God is quiet.