I attended a social event recently with a live band playing. It was so loud, I couldn’t sit at a table and have a conversation. I asked my wife if we could move to a table as far away from the band as possible, which we did, and still needed to yell in each others’ ears.
Noise. It’s become the norm. We need it for a good vibe at a social event, so people are happy with the party feel. We need it in church, too. We’ve learned to need noise in every area of our lives—radio on, TV on, screen scrolling on social media, video playing, podcast talking, even white noise while we sleep.
We’re afraid of quietness. Yes, afraid. We don’t know what to do with it, like riding in an elevator with 4 strange people and nobody is talking—thank God for the muzak.
Why are we afraid of quietness? Because we don’t like being alone with ourselves. Not in the car. Not in the bathroom getting ready in the morning (especially in front of the mirror). Not sitting at Starbucks.
It’s too much for us, so we turn on noise, grab our earbuds, launch the playlist or podcast, dive into social media, turn on the TV. Then we’re not alone with ourselves.
Because if we’re alone with ourselves—no noise, nobody else interrupting our thoughts or blaring loud enough so that we can’t think or talk—then we need to face ourselves. We need to hear our own thoughts. We need to be honest and real. And that’s scary.
Not to mention, if there is no noise to distract, then we’re not only alone with ourselves but alone with God.
And what does he think of me?
Is he as disappointed in me, as I am in myself?
Does he get overwhelmed with everything I can’t get done as much as I do, and shake his head that I’ve failed again?
Is he angry with me like I’ve been angry with others who don’t do things my way?
Is he also confused about who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing?
I don’t want to face these questions so I chase them away. With noise. And it fills up my soul, the deep, purposeful place of identity in me. Fills it up with noise pollution that becomes addictive.
Turn down the volume today. This week, put your phone in the other room when you’re getting ready in the morning. Push the OFF button on your car radio. Get up early and sit with only your coffee, earbuds not invited.
Don’t be afraid of the emptiness and quietness of the moment, because then will you find something more from God that fills it up. Fills you up.
You will hear what he’s been trying to tell you from his Word without yelling in your ear or spitting in your face.
You will tune into the presence of his Holy Spirit counseling you and comforting you as he promises.
You will notice his gentle whisper of “I love you,” his softly echoing assurance “I am here,” his nudge of guidance “This is the way.”
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” (Isaiah 30:15).
PRAYER: I live with way too much noise, God, and it’s my own fault for turning on devices and turning up the volume. It’s hard to be alone with myself, and with you. Refresh my heart today. Renew my faith to create and cherish quiet moments for you to speak truth, and I finally hear. And listen. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read Isaiah 30:8-18. In what ways were God’s people tuning into the noise around them? Notice God’s stern warnings, and then his final promise in v. 18. How does that change your approach to quietness this week?