Two weekends ago, CedarCreek’s interns (myself included) went on a 24-hour sabbatical, during which we fasted from food, technology, and conversation. Personally, it was fantastic to set aside some of the distractions—the texts, the emails, the to-do list, the guilt of not being busy, the noise—to be still and listen.
During last weekend’s service, Dr. Calvin Sweeney, pastor of The Tabernacle Toledo church, defined noise as “anything that interferes with the accurate transmission of a message between a sender and receiver” or “anything that interferes with our ability to build powerful relationships and connections.” Even during Jesus’s time, the world was full of noise, as we see in Luke 10:38-41:
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. However, Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” However, the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!”
If Martha could be distracted from Jesus without a phone constantly buzzing in her pocket and with Jesus physically in the house with her, how much easier must it be to get distracted from him today? However, when I got away from the noise for 24-hours, God made me aware of things in my life, both negative and positive, that I had been too distracted to notice before. Not only that—those 24-hours were fun. They were fulfilling! They were peaceful.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
The beauty of the pause is hearing the voice of the one who gives us peace. We won’t find peace in our day-to-day tasks. We also can’t keep waiting for our lives to become peaceful so that we can pause to listen for God because our peace comes from God. As Dr. Sweeney said, “It is the peace of God that allows us to deal with the pace of life.” We can be still and know that God is God because he is God.
Dr. Sweeney also said that how well we listen affects how well we live. We can’t listen passively, but must be intentional about listening. That means listening expectantly, quietly, obediently, and constantly.
We must listen, knowing that God still speaks.
Over the next few days, we are going to look at some of the ways God speaks to us: through Bible reading, prayer, Scripture memorization, and other believers. For most of us, it’s hard to set aside distractions for one hour (let alone twenty-four). However, I hope you’ll take this as an invitation to open up a little space in your schedule where you can listen, allowing God to speak into your life.
What are some examples of noise in your life?
Dr. Sweeney gave four types of noise (internal, external, emotional, and cultural). Which type do you feel you struggle with most?
Do you feel you’re being intentional about listening to God?
Of the four ways, God speaks to us that we’ll be discussing (prayer, Bible reading, Scripture memorization, and other believers), through which do you find you hear God most? Which is the most difficult?
Make a list of the “noises” in your life that you feel are most distracting. Then, plan at least an hour sometime in the next week during which you can set those things aside and listen for God. I also recommend setting aside technology and getting away from people or tasks that might distract you. Try finding a space where you feel relaxed. You can read your Bible, journal, or even go for a walk— try to get away from any possible distractions.
Heavenly Father, thank you for being a God who speaks to us even today. Thank you for the peace you give us. Please help us to make time for you in our hectic schedules. Teach us to set aside distractions and listen intentionally for you. May your will be done in us and through us. Amen.
This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton Lechner is a college grad currently working at her local library. In her spare time, she volunteers as an ESL teacher and freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.
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