Turn down the volume, reduce the noise

As I sit down to write this morning, let me tell you what I hear.

The dryer is tumbling.  Mondays are laundry days for me.  I smile as I think to myself, yeah laundry is in progress!  You’ll be reading this on Tuesday, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the laundry will be finished for the week when you see the post.

I hear the clicking of keys with each word I type.  They are bringing into creation new sentences, the bones, upon which the muscles of thought will be attached to.  Oh how thankful I am to watch the words fall from heaven and unto the page.

No kids, no phone ringing, no TV or radio blaring.  Just a whole lot of quiet.

I love music.  I really do.  I am ready to turn the volume to its maximum and make joyful noises at the top of my lungs.  Yet I was absolutely captivated by a verse I read in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 today.  It says, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands.”

I am dwelling on the first part of the this verse especially; “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life”.  Ambition.  Goal.  Objective.  Aspiration.  Hope.  Dream.  Purpose.  Determination.  How many of us want to live a quiet life?  How many of us are willing to pour for the ambition to get it?

There’s plenty of noise around us.  Dictionary.com says that one definition for noise is this “disturbance in a communications system that interferes with or prevents reception of a signal or of information, as the buzz on a telephone or snow on a television screen.”

It is one of my greatest longings to have a strong communication system with God.  I want to have the pinnacle communication package with God.  Talk, text, data, pictures, video; the works.  Yet there are so many disturbances that attempt to interfere with our signals.

I think of all of those things that can get in my way and prevent me from receiving the information that God has for me.  I feel sad over how long my list really is.

I think of when I got up this morning.  When the alarm when off, I hit the snooze button and cuddled back under the covers.  When I did roll out of bed, I disregarded the Bible sitting on my desk but reached straight for my to do list that I began writing yesterday.  There’s a lot to do today, best get started early if I want to see them through.

Noise.  Noise.  Noise.  Hitting the snooze.  Disregarding my Bible.  Both are disturbances to what God may have been wanting me to see.

Then there was an unpleasant exchange with my daughter this morning about having to wear snow pants for morning recess.  How horrible I am as a mom to make her wear snow pants when the other kids won’t be wearing them, or so she says.  Somehow the logic of it being nine degrees and feeling like a minus three degrees is lost at the thought of being the only one condemned to walk the playground in snow gear.

I wasn’t very patient or understanding with her.  I really just wanted her to do as I said, because I said so.  If I had been in the Bible earlier, I may have been able to circumvent the path we went down and the noise it created.

This is just a sampling of what disrupts my communication with God.  Yes I want to lead a quiet life.  Shouldn’t quiet come easily?  I guess if it did, the inspired words of the Bible would not include the instruction to “make it your ambition”. 

Ambition sounds a lot like work that requires effort and intention.  Quiet lives do not just happen on their own.  We have to make the choice.  We have to act upon our choice.  We have to be patient with the process.  We get the opportunity to watch the fruit grow.  We will eventually get to taste the sweetness of the harvest.

I have never thought of it before, but looking back I see how the Holy Spirit has had me on a noise reduction plan for many years now.  A few years back we got rid of cable.  Lots of yucky noise there that was disrupting our relationships with God and with each other.  Slowly over time, my husband and I have become convicted about some of what we watched & listened to.  We cut out some more.

God has even placed within us a deep craving for quiet times together.  The radio is on a lot less in our vehicles.  Which is really awesome because now we drive a lot more that we live in the country.  For my husband, our move was a huge noise reducer to him.

When we lived in our old neighborhood the things that bothered him, didn’t bother me so much.  I didn’t hear much of what he heard.  When I sat on our deck I heard birds.  He heard traffic.  I heard faint whisperings of God, encouraging my heart.  He heard the neighbors dogs bark.  It makes me realize that we do not all have to live in the middle of no where to find quiet.

I’m starting to realize that living a quiet life is about having fewer disruptions and interferences with our communications systems with God.  Things that are disruptions or interferences to me may not bother you and the other way around.  Things are quiet we can receive the signals and information God is sending us.

“Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live” Isaiah 55:3

Aren’t God’s promises so awesome and amazing!  See what Isaiah says.  Listen to God.  Come near to Him so we can hear.  God will give life to our souls.

Look at what Jesus, Himself, says in John 6:45, “It is written by the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to Me.”  Oh how deeply I long to be taught by God.  I can see when I look back that those times when I hear God speak, I do learn from Him.  The desire to draw near to Jesus grows even strong in my heart.

As you are reading these words I pray that you are in a place of quiet and of peace.  But, I know how life is.  The phone may be ringing.  The dishwasher may be beeping that it is done.  Kids may be running through the house, or even worse they are silent and you have no idea what they are into at the moment.  Stereos, TVs and streaming video from the web may all be trying to interfere with your heavenly connection.  Your thoughts in your mind may sounds as annoying as the beeps, pops and buzzes of a dial-up modem.  Through it all I pray God’s connection to us will be strong and clearly received.

Remember that making the choice to lead a quiet life does not mean it is not going happen instantaneously.  It also does not mean that it is going to be easy.  There will be good times.  There will be great times.  There’s also just going to be down right, headache inducing, noisy times.  Practice makes progress.

You are not doing this alone.  You have the fellowship of other believers who face the same loud snowy static life produces.  Even better you have God.  He’s the best communication and network specialist that you will ever encounter.  God loves you!  He’s willing to go to the ultimate extremes to make sure we receive His messages.  He allowed Himself to be nailed on a cross, brutally put to death just so that we would hear Him so that our souls could live.

Dearest Lord,

Thank You so much for the blessing of Your messages!  Lord may Your signal ring loud and clear for us today. 

Beloved Lord, may we cherish and deeply desire to receive You into our hearts.  May it help us to be ambitious in seeking to live a quiet life.  May it help us to have the strength and the patience to overcome all of the noise the world blares at us.  May we experience the fullness of life that You have purposed us for. 

May our return signals to You be messages of love, of gratitude and of praise.  In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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4 comments

  1. ‘ I think of when I got up this morning. When the alarm when off, I hit the snooze button and cuddled back under the covers. When I did roll out of bed, I disregarded the Bible sitting on my desk but reached straight for my to do list that I began writing yesterday. There’s a lot to do today, best get started early if I want to see them through.’

    Thank you SO much for this admission, Julie. I feel like so much of my day is survival mode. I wake up just white-knuckled and hoping to survive this life I once begged God for. I’m so sick of survival. I want more. I want happiness. Hope. Joy. The life Jesus Christ died to give me. Yet I have myself in this work strip of trying to prove that I deserve it. That I am worthy.

    Being the perfectionist that I am, because I can’t live up to my own standards, I choose, defiantly, to live up to none. I can’t remember the last time I felt LOVE from my bible. When I actually didn’t feel adverse to what He had to say to me, through his word, my loved ones, a message from church.

    My flight mode is kicked into high gear, and for the life of me, I REALLY want to give in. I really want to just run away from all of it. Pick up my family and start over. Fresh. Somewhere inspiring, beautiful, different.

    The thing that grates me the most, is that I know that my location here on planet earth doesn’t have to change one iota for me to be in a different, fresh, inspired place. I have picked up God’s love letter and had my whole perspective shaken and stirred by His love for me…so why not now, God?

    What am I to do when the noise of my life is my little loved ones that are eager, and zestful and absorbent? When I wake up, and they are minutes behind me, and their list of needs wants and demands is long? When their nap times don’t always correlate? When I look at my sink that is over flowing with dishes. So much so that its now onto the counter and to the stove, yet again, and their is still a meal left to prepare this evening.
    When its Thursday and I have 8,9,10 baskets of laundry to fold and still more in the laundry room, and its been two weeks since I had that caught up? When I look at the calendar and realize its been a whole month, (and then some), since the last time I worked out. Hmm, no wonder my pants are feeling snug again.
    When, the resentment starts to kick in that my hubby actually gets to leave this house. s\So how could he possibly understand any of the mania you feel?
    Oh and sex, please mister, grab a towel and start folding, or better yet, just put the kids to bed so I can have a seconds peace. And then even at that, 20 minutes of play later, I am the bad guy and demanding bed yet again for the kiddos. Always the fun-hater, mom is.

    I actually have tried to get little snippets of time with God, worked at reading a devotional, the bible verses it referenced and then journal what I though He was opening up to me. However, for me, its like having the appetizer and then no meal. I am left wanting. And then irritated at the fact that I cant get more in. So its like this double-edged sword.

    I am confused and lost. I know that God doesn’t leave us, but girlfriend, right now, I definitely feel shipwrecked. I am so tired that I can’t even see straight. That I had chest pains so bad that I actually thought it was a heart attack. That I can’t even process most of the things going on with my life. That questions from well meaning family members about why haven’t you gotten your daughters glasses fixed literally enrage me. Can NO ONE see us? Does no one actually see that we are not making it- even my own family?

    My house is always a wreck, not to mention under construction and at a complete halt. My kiddos are always playing at the top of their lungs. (Let’s face it, the sound of children laughing is precious and beautiful, but when you just need silence, it too is noise.)

    Many of my friends have fallen away, which, I get, we are a hot mess that is too much for us right now, so for them to turn tail and run, I almost expect…still hurts though, badly. And then there are the ones that have stuck around and it feels mostly that its just to tell you everything you are doing wrong. DUH!
    Like there is some special formula to having a God filled life, that you add this, plus this and get that. And I am not saying that there are not key factors to feeling God’s hand in your life, but, come on the reason I feel this way is because I cannot figure out how to do it. And the only thing you are telling me is everything I already know.

    And I felt God’s pull on my life long before I gave it over to him, so why not now? Why do I feel nothing now?

    Please God, hear me. Show me some sign that you still love me. That this lost woman is in fact saved. Because right now, I am scared. I feel terribly alone. I haven’t any idea what to do. I feel myself pulling away from You, not trusting You. Being double-minded in my prayers for I am convinced you will answer my prayer for closeness with a painful experience…

    Am i really one of the seeds that have fallen on the beaten path, the ones with shallow roots…is that really me Lord. I thought that I loved You. That I lived for You…am I really just the sham that I thought I was before I ever gave myself to you…?

    1. My dearest Friend,

      Oh I couldn’t make it through your letter without gushing tears all over the place.

      The words you wrote could have very easily come from my own journal. Truly. It’s not like I’d have to go back that far in my journal either. As I write this to you I have dirty dishes in my sink, on the counter and on the stove. I’ve got laundry in the washer and the dryer and in a basket in the living room. Today I choose to put them aside, for at least a short time to write to you.

      There have been times that I have felt like a giant spiritual colander. Pour in Bible studies, inspirational books, praise songs, sermons and lots of Bible reading. It seem to drain right through. Still empty. Yet I would think to myself…what? I just pour gallons in, why am I empty?

      I hear you. I really do. All of your questions. I heard them.

      Here’s the crappy part though, I do not have any good answers. I don’t know if I even have a mediocre answer to one of your questions. Here’s what this broken woman can testify to.

      You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone. Even if it feels like it, You are not alone.

      God is with you. He hasn’t forsaken you and abandoned you.

      You are a blessing to me. Even though we’re not sitting next to each other sharing a coffee in a kid free zone, I look upon this as a divine appointment. Do you know what kind of a risk it is to share of yourself? That’s huge! That takes a lot of courage. So many of the times I have thought those things I have tried to hide them, even from God, afraid & cowering in fear.

      Seriously, thank you for being brave enough to share! It’s inspiring. How are we really supposed to help one another if we never let each other know what our needs are.

      As I am reflecting and pondering upon your words. I think of Jonah as he ran away. I’ve definitely thought about that before, but the lesson learned I think I’d try to flee by land so as to not get swallowed by a fish. I think of Elijah who prayed that the Lord would just take his life. To get to that point where you just want to say, Lord take me from all of this. I wonder if they were here right now what they would say?

      What do we do when the Lord feels absent from us? How do we deal with this feeling that we are in the middle of desert, abandoned and starving? I’d love to say take two of these and it will be better by morning. I can’t.

      I can tell you that God has seen a great number of us through crappy situations. God is faithful. Even though we don’t know the future, God has seen it all. Who knows two weeks, two months or two years from now you may be ministering to me because I have just experienced something that has rocked my faith to its foundation.

      Maybe Paul’s words are best. “Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind me and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:12-14

      I’m sure Paul had some really crappy days too. Days when he was literally shipwrecked, persecuted and finding out that those who he had made an impact upon had gone back to their old ways. He admitted he didn’t have it together and he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. But he pressed on. Sometimes pressing on seems so insignificant. Some days pressing on about falling repeatedly and getting up again and again and again.

      I am so proud of you for being able to acknowledge where you are at. God doesn’t ask us to fake it until we make it. He wants us to be real with Him. He already knows. Even more so, thank you for taking the risk and sharing with me.

      You are not alone. I am praying for you. I am lending you my faith right now. I love you.

      Even more so, God loves you! He loves you so much He is singing over you!

      Zephaniah 3:17 (New International Version)
      The LORD your God is with you,
      he is mighty to save.
      He will take great delight in you,
      he will quiet you with his love,
      he will rejoice over you with singing.”

      You are a precious treasure and a beautiful gift. Even if you are not seeing it at this moment. You are. I see it.

      With love and prayers,
      Julie

      1. Thank you for your precious words my friend. And prayers as well. I am blessed by the words that flow from you.

        I Didnt actually realize until I re read my post that I was that raw in my emotions. I guess bravery only runs as far as not knowing where the delete button was after posting it :0)

        Thank you also for not being offended, but rather inspired. And realizing I was not attacking what you wrote, but am earnestly trying to find the mute button.

        The nuggets of the Word in your reply will be written on post-its in my bathroom and on my fridge to remind me that God is near. Thank you for those. Sometimes when I am so overwhelmed by life, even the words on the page overwhelm me. So I greatly appreciate these hand picked verses of encouragement.

        Praying for you as well my friend.

      2. You are so precious! I love you, love you, love you!

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