Friday, March 18, 2011

Most of the Noise Is Coming From the Shallow End

Ruth Haley Barton said something at our first retreat at the Transforming Center that I loved. “The church today is a lot like a swimming pool. Most of the noise is coming from the shallow end.”

The humor in this quote is imagining a bunch of noisy, splashing kids making a big ruckus in a pool while the adults quietly swim in the deeper waters.

Unfortunately, much of what is propagated in Christendom today appeals to our most shallow desires for greater health, wealth and success. As this is true corporately, sadly, it is also true individually. We keep our lives busy, noisy and distracted and we ourselves become “the shallow end.”

As I have sought to practice more quietness and silence in my spiritual journey I have discovered that within my own mind often there is much turmoil, distraction and confusion that I was unaware of before. As long as I surrounded myself with external noise I was not confronted with this reality. I found that when I shut that all down then I begin to hear disturbing “voices” in my head. (Not real audible voices; I don’t have that problem as of this writing!)

The external enemy has an internal ally. I have a reason to keep my world noisy with the various distractions. They all serve to protect me from feeling things in my soul, often painful, that would draw me into utter dependence upon the Savior. Part of me doesn’t like this vulnerability.

I have found that distraction can only be overcome by a greater attraction…this attraction is to be caught up in the wonder of Jesus Christ and who He really is. I make conscious choices to take in less new information so I can have more transformation, more intimacy with God. Less is more in this case.

I do this by choosing the narrow road to think about Christ and His presence through my day rather than taking the broader, destructive road and frenetically thinking about what floods into my mind through the various media.

H.A. Ironside said it this way, “The secret of holiness is heart-occupation with Christ. As we gaze upon Him, we become more and more like Him. Do you want to be holy? Spend much time in His presence. Let the loveliness of the risen Lord so fill the vision of your soul that all else is shut out.”

And King David said it this way, “…I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” (Psalm 123:2)

If I am filled with the external noise which delays me from dealing with the internal noisy distraction I cannot allow the quiet attraction to Christ, planted by the Holy Spirit, to be at work in me. My life will remain noisy and turbulent in the “shallow end” with nothing of depth to offer to those who are thirsty.

Little by Little Learning to Quiet My Soul,


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