My wife and I made our last shopping trip of the year to Costco on Monday. (Why the last one of the year? Well, let’s put it this way: we find we are better able to bear the fruit of the Spirit when we avoid places like that in December!)
While there, I made a purchase I had been pondering for a while: a pair of noise-cancelling ear buds.
They’re handy for tuning out the drone of an aircraft when flying, or when listening to music without background racket.
The reality of contemporary life is that “background racket” is pretty hard to avoid.
If you sit in your home, there’s the sound of your heating system, or the refrigerator, making noise, albeit subtle, from time to time.
If you sit outside, you might have a neighbour assaulting your ears with a leaf blower. (Don’t get me started.)
Unless you’re out in the woods, alone, it can be hard to have no sound but nature. I’m sure that’s why noise-cancelling earphones were invented in the first place.
One of the challenges of modern life is that we often do not really want quiet.
Most people who use noise-cancelling earphones use that feature to keep out the sounds of the world around them so they can listen to the music or podcast or whatever they want, without distraction.
Rarely will people put on noise-cancelling earphones and not play something.
When we are so used to some sort of sound, whether the din of the city or the music of our choosing, sitting in silence can feel awkward, if not unnerving.
But for followers of Jesus, it can also be immensely rewarding. It’s most often the way in which the Lord has room to speak to us.
I encourage you to try it: sit in silence for an hour, even half an hour. If you can’t find a place where you can have silence, and you have noise-cancelling earphones, use them, but don’t play anything.
You might feel uncomfortable, because the first time you do it, it will be like a detoxification process. But the second time, as you listen for God to speak, you might actually hear something in your heart.
Read the Scriptures while you sit in silence. Choose a short passage, or even one verse, and sit with it. You may be tempted to do all the talking with the Lord, but try sitting in silence. It might be challenging, but perseverance will pay off.
Enjoy the sound of silence.
“I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62.1-2, NLT).