I‘ve just returned from a 38 day mission trip tot he United States. I will be writing a series of posts regarding that trip and the myriad of experiences. I was going to say “ecclesiastical experiences,” but in retrospect I do want to blur the lines between the “spiritual” and the “secular.” Yes, you read that correctly. I do want to blur those lines.
In one of my favorite movies, “The Hunt for Red October,” the captain encourages his crew to take confidence in their latest technological achievement of a submarine which runs silent and undetectable to the enemy. The captain says:
“It reminds me of the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin when the world trembled at the sound of our rockets. Now they will tremble again – at the sound of our silence.”
While I am from the United States and grew up there, there are certain cultural gaps that I experience from spending long amounts of time in a foreign mission field. On this particular trip, I became keenly aware of noise. Within cultures of faith or those who claim to have none, there is a common trend. That trend is noise. I’m talking about audible noise principally, but not strictly.
Thoughtful pauses are all but extinct where moments of awkward silence must be filled. Everywhere there is noise. From the moment I landed in the states until the moment I returned there was noise. Everyone has plugs in their ears pumping sound inward. Practically every house, every restaurant, hotel, car, and even stores were filled with sounds. “In the abundance of words, there is foolishness.” (Proverbs 10:19)
I encountered so many on this trip. Some I would consider spiritually advanced and others who are self-proclaimed as spiritually empty. But in either case, after sweeping aside small talk, there’s a search for more. There’s a yearning to interpret the signals of their own consciences. People in general are waiting to hear something good. They, in my experience, are waiting to hear the good news of the gospel.
Instead, because in many cases, they don’t know what they are waiting to hear, fill that void with noise. A constant state of distraction is the best defense against transformational attention. Additionally, and generally speaking, I think most people don’t want to listen to their own consciences, or to that ever-loving, gentle, and beckoning voice of God. People who like to hear themselves talk are often shouting over the voice of their own consciences and convictions.
All of this noise not only neutralizes that message during our waking hours, but in effect, voids the silence of our sleep as well. “For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.” ( Ecclesiastes 5:7) The abundance of noise during the day bleeds into our respites. “”You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” (Acts 28:26) When you begin to tremble at the sound of your own silence and attempt to alleviate that fear with noise, you’re self-medicating. It’s not a solution, it’s simply an anemic substitution.
A few questions:
What other kinds of noise impede relationship with God and people?
What would you suggest are some good noise canceling devices?
If Jesus sheep hear His voice, then why are so many of them not?