The world is so loud. It sometimes feels impossible to find a quiet spot.
Trying to find a TV show to relax after a long day? Flip through five channels to see war, dissention, active shootings, and two sides fighting over right and wrong, which isn’t even clear of what is right and wrong. It causes angst. Can I even go out and be safe? Should I be preparing for another pandemic or maybe even a war? Can I even trust the media or government?
Scroll through social media and see perfect frames of families, clean houses, and a picture-perfect life. It immediately prompts your eyes to the room of your own home, maybe littered with clothes, shoes, or toys. Maybe it looks a lot smaller from your view. It’s incomparable. Keep scrolling to see a happy couple or the latest pregnancy announcement. When was the last time you and your husband/wife looked that happy? Why doesn’t my husband/wife post about me you wonder? When was the last time they even looked up from their phone and saw you? Keep scrolling to see a mom cooking or doing crafty projects with her kiddos. Another blow. You’ve been so tired, so drained, you can’t even imagine the mess and time it would take to clean that up. Again, incomparable.
Going to do some online shopping? That will surely bring some relief. Flip to your emails to look for any deals, only to see that your boss or that needy client or your child's teacher emailed, and it adds yet another thing for your to do list. It makes you remember that things are financially tight right now anyways, and maybe you shouldn’t do that online retail therapy. Instead, maybe you should work more, harder, or look for a new job to make more money.
Does any of this sound familiar?
In a time where we are more connected than ever, it’s really hard to turn it all off sometimes. Everywhere we turn is noise, and not necessarily good, life-giving noise. Rather it’s noise that causes confusion, angst, comparison, jealousy, fear, dissension, and exhaustion within the walls of our own home and minds. Especially with the holidays, family dynamics, and packed schedules upon us, everything feels a little louder and tense. There’s political views, religious opinions, parenting criticism, differing parenting styles, childhood trauma, food allergies, awkward family members, and differing lifestyles coming to the table this year. Not to mention, the noise level that happens naturally when you put 6 or more people in a room together. It is noisy in more than one way.
When I think about all the noise, I’m reminded of just how gentle and soft God is with us. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah was running for his life. Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife who was downright evil, promised to kill him. Fearing for his life, Elijah fled to the wilderness. He felt exhausted, scared, overwhelmed, and just done with life. He begged God to kill him, saying “I have had enough! Lord, take my life, for I’m no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4). When we keep reading, we can quickly see that though Elijah asked for death, God didn’t kill him. Instead, Elijah fell asleep, and God sent an angel who fed him and gave him water. The food and water he received from the angel, gave Elijah strength to travel for 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. There, Elijah had an encounter with God. God instructed him to go and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence. This is where we read:
“At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering the cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave” to hear God speak (1 Kings 19:11-13).
God, in all of His glory didn't come to Elijah in a roaring wind, a rumbling earthquake, or in the heat of a fire. He came in soft whisper.
God in all of His glory, didn't come to earth in a wind, earthquake, or fire. He came as an infant to be wrapped in a cloth and laid in a feeding trough shortly after His birth (Luke 2:7). He came in a soft whisper.
Jesus in all of His glory “... humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). He came in a soft whisper.
Jesus is such a reminder that in order to hear God and to feel His presence, we have to shut the world off, humble ourselves, and be intentional about getting quiet with God. He’s a reminder that God, though He could demand our presence through various ways that would rock our worlds, doesn’t. Rather He’s patient with us, allowing us to choose Him, hoping that we choose Him over the things of this world. In the same sense, we don’t have to have a loud roar to be heard. We, too, can speak in a soft whisper to those we love this season, emulating the very love that Jesus, God on earth, offers to us.
As we enter into a week packed full of meals, family gatherings, shopping, and Christmas preparations, let us shut out all the noise and lean into the whispers. As we fill our plates with delicious food, whether store-bought or homemade, let us also fill our minds and hearts with gratitude for the gifts that God has given each of us though they may look different from the picture-perfect squares we see on our phones. Let us fill our lives with God’s Word, which in turn will welcome “... the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, [that] will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Because the reality of this week is that we have so much more than what we see to be thankful for. We have Jesus, and His love is really incomparable.