“Soon silence will have passed into legend.  Man has turned his back on silence.  Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation…tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego.  His anxiety subsides.  His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.”  ~Jean Arp


Silence is already legend.

The ice-maker in your refrigerator makes noise. The dishwasher drones on. Artificial light from televisions, computers and phones flicker through neighborhood windows when out for a “quiet” walk (but chances are you have headphones stuffed into the ears too). Morning devotionals are delivered through podcast. Visual noise is deafening.

We are less connected in authentic community, but constantly plugged in. We know less about ourselves and more about other people’s vacations and family photos.

We are lonely, but not like the farmer whose closest neighbor lives ten miles away, we are plugged in, tuned out and isolated within crowds of people and endless noise. Sometimes people can’t take it anymore, so they put on Copland or Bach to relax. The noise still infiltrates and cars drive by.

We know nothing about silence.

So how do we uncover our unique path? How do we pursue our dream and do we really know what that true desire is? How do we get hold of a life that is drowned out with advertising, wants, and temporal desires?

Psalm 37:4 (NIV) says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

There’s more to this verse and I think it’s important to read the scriptures before and after (which should always be the case when reading the Bible), but for today’s post I’d like to pull out a parallel between noise and desire.

I don’t believe many of us know our true desires.

I’ve worked for years trying to get my book published. It has been a desire of my heart. Since God changed my mind, directing me to shut the door on traditional publishing, does that mean He broke His promise? No, because now that I’m on the other side I see the desire much differently. Publication was a desire because in my fleshly mind, conquering that goal spoke success to me. To be successful means to have value. For someone who made an agreement with herself long ago that she has no value (that’s me), it’s understandable that accomplishment fulfills what I believe to be desire.

I’ve since learned that I have deeper desires (and I indeed have value because the Father says so, not a published book).

I want Jesus made known in a real and tangible way by blending faith with everyday decisions. I want women to fully know who they are in Christ. I want women to understand that they can experience healthy authentic community with one another. I want women to grow in leadership and have opportunities to do that through CoffeeHouse Chats. I want to be a catalyst for something that breathes and grows well beyond myself.

One book in print is so puny behind all the above.

What does any of this have to do with noise?

I would never have discovered this without seeking intentional silence!

Donald Miller writes this in his book Searching For God Knows What, “I realize we want to blame all the world’s problems on individual responsibility, that we want to look at Scripture through a Western-financial lens, saying that everybody is responsible for everything they do, but this is only half truth. Adam and Eve were deceived; they were misled. Something in them wanted something they couldn’t have, but they were tricked into thinking those thoughts. It’s a both/and situation. We are wired so that other people help create us, help us make us who we are, and when deception is fed to us, we make bad decisions.”

The noise and incessant chatter of a serpent determined Eve’s choice.

What you think is your true desire might be a trick. Noise might conceal the deeper desire. The only way you’ll find out is to get silent before God.

Before He gives us the desires of our heart, we must be willing to quietly listen for One voice. 

The answer is not in the Target commercial. The desire is not found behind the wheels of a Mustang (although that would be lovely). Our longing might be masked behind fatigue (I need a vacation), limitation (a better paying job would help), jealousy (can I just have what she has?), loneliness (if only I found the perfect mate), or anxiety (I desire to be free from the baggage of my past).

Part of “The Cost” is getting silent. You will never get the answers without solitude.

Will we ever find complete quiet? No. Even when Thoreau walked through the woods birds chirped. But we can do our best. We can unplug. We can fight to find the essence of life and the deep desires of our hearts in a desperate, costly attempt to push mute.

How do you find silence in a noisy world?


Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)