Clearing the Stage: Noise

Take a break from all the plans that you have madeAnd sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak And pray for real upon your knees until they blister Shine the light on every corner of your life Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open Then read the Word and put to test the things you've heard Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken -Lyrics from "Clear the Stage" Oh how I love the lyrics to this song. And yet the dangerous thing is that while the Spirit inside me testifies to how good it is to sit and wait on God, this rarely turns into action. I am often so bent on being productive (as I wrote about in yesterday's post), that I forget what it means to sit still and wait on God to speak. I tend to fill every second of my day with something in hopes to make the most of my time. But if I were to look at my time with spiritual eyes, the reality would be that I am filling my day with so much noise that there is very little room for God to speak. What does this noise look like? Lately, it's been way too much "screen time:" TV, internet (Facebook, pinterest, email, etc.), and iPhone apps and games. I begun thinking about how much time is wasted through these avenues a few weeks ago before the season of Lent started. Jimmy and I have never given anything up for Lent, as it often seems to be for so many simply a religious practice with little or no meaning. But we have some wonderful families around us that have redeemed this practice with more purpose, using the denying of ourselves as a reminder in this season of the sacrifice Christ made for us. So we both decided to fast from something. I knew Jimmy was going to be gone much of this Lenten season and I tend to turn the TV on more in his absence. I think it makes me feel less alone. So I decided to "give up" all TV watching for these 40 days until we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It was interesting that the first couple days of this TV fast, I spent an abnormally large amount of time on my computer. Jimmy's comment to me as I was talking about this with him was: "So, essentially you've just replaced your TV time with a different form of distraction." Ouch. But unfortunately true. What is it that makes me so averse to sitting still in silence? Is it our culture that pushes productivity, our highly technological society that keeps us continually busy, or my own selfish desires to do what I want rather than wait on God? In 1 Kings 19, Elijah hears from God as he is fleeing for his life from the evil Jezebel. God tells him to go stand on the mountain as He passed by. First a great and strong wind came, breaking the mountains into pieces. "But the Lord was not in the wind." And then an earthquake, "but the Lord was not in the earthquake." And then a fire, "but the Lord was not in the fire." And finally, the sound of a gentle blowing... and it is in this quiet form that God speaks to Elijah. What a wonderful reminder to my distraction-prone heart that it is often in quiet whispers that God speaks. And I will never hear this treasured whisper of God unless I quiet my life and my heart enough to make room for it. Since the conversation I had with Jimmy, I've sought to use the time I've freed up during this fast to seek God through more time in the Word and prayer, listening to podcasts, and playing worship music. And as would be expected, I have felt more filled with the Spirit and more sensitive to His voice than I have in many, many months. Slowly I am being reminded of the beautiful discipline of waiting in silence for God. Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to experience this. As I was hitting the last hour of my drive home, the sun was setting. I turned the music down and drove in silence, watching one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen in years. I kept asking, "Lord what are you saying to me in this?" and simply waiting to hear from God. And sure enough, He brought a couple different things to my mind and revealed subtle errors in my way of thinking. What could have been a busy, distracted, and rather thoughtless drive home became a wonderful time of repentance and fellowship with God. I wonder how many of these sweet moments I've missed because I have my face glued to a screen all day. It saddens me to think about how little time I leave in my day for God to speak. I don't want to miss any of the marvelous truths He has to share with me about Himself! I want to truly wait on Him with quietness of heart and mind. God, please give me spiritual eyes to see my day how you see it! Help me to see time spent with you and waiting on you as my most valuable time! Forgive me for the hours upon hours that I've wasted on pointless things that don't matter. Grant me the discipline to leave space in my day for quietness, denying my urges to mindlessly read facebook and twitter feeds, play games, and surf the web. Give me the heart that David had in Psalm 62:1,5: "My soul waits in silence for God only." Only You Lord can give me the ability to make these changes in my life for good. I trust in You and long for Your voice to be the loudest voice in my life. In Jesus name, Amen. Check out Jimmy's "Clearing the Stage" blog for today on his facebook page.