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02 Nov '10

Dialing down the Noise

Posted by T.J. Addington in Intentional living, prayer, spiritual formation, The heart
Our lives are full of noise! Distractions, diversions, hectic schedules, ubiquitous emails and text messages that chase us across the city or the globe, twenty four hour news, and beckoning computer screens that allow us to have dozens of multiple pages open, clicks to click and options to explore as the news scrolls across the bottom and music plays in the background. Our lives are full of noise.

Think of noise as everything that distracts from quiet contemplation, deep thinking, and quiet time with God. If your life is like mine, the cacophony of distractions often drives out what our soul often craves. The simplicity of quiet solitude with God where away from the distractions, we can think, pray, meditate and just "be" with Him.

Our distractions - schedules and technology - are often our greatest challenges. I confess to loving technology but I recognize that I can often be a slave to its noise and constant 24 hour ability to find and distract me anywhere I am on the globe. I also confess to running very hard, cramming all that I can into my days leaving too little margin at times. Noise!

I am learning to unplug and disengage more often for the sake of my soul knowing that the distractions also distract my attention from the One whom I serve and always need to spend time with. Theophan the Recluse wrote: "When remembrance of God lives in the heart and there maintains the fear of Him, then all goes well; but when this remembrance grows weak or is kept only in the head, then all goes astray." Distractions cause remembrance to grow weak. We are only as connected to Christ as the last time we spent time with Him.

As a youngster I knew my father rose at about 4:30 to spend time with God before going to work early as a physician and surgeon. I could not understand that early morning ritual. Today I do for it is in the quiet of the early morning that I find quietness, solitude, and time to reflect on my life in light of God's word. In the monastic tradition - one passed down to the Catholic, Anglican and Episcopalian church, this is often called "The Daily Office." Regular times of prayer, Scripture reading and contemplation. It is the discipline of taking time away from noise and distractions that will often chase us the rest of the day to be with Jesus.

As one who embraces technology easily I am experimenting with weekends and other periods where it is turned off. I am finding more joy in times of solitude, extended reading and technology free hours. When I do, my mind slows down, allowing it to wander down winding alleyways of thought that distracted thinking does not allow. One wonders if the Psalms would have been written if David had a cell phone and computer. The reflections of the sages we read, ancient and modern on following Christ were born out of deep thinking and long times with God and His word.

By wiring I love the challenge of what I do in life and leadership. I also realize that the drive that often thrives on noise and the adrenalin it produces causes my soul to grow weary and shallow when not nurtured by the solitude and silence of undistracted time with God. When one first dials the noise down it feels unnatural because we are so used to jumping on every text, every email and distraction. Indeed we have become the distracted generation. But practiced regularly, a daily office, if you will, away from the distractions and  noise nourishes the soul in ways nothing else can. And in the end, feeding our soul is far more important than answering the beckoning email.