Haven’t you ever felt like screaming that? What is it about noise that seems to be so profound? Why are we bombarded with it all day long, from radios blaring to TVs screaming, from elevators playing cheesy easy listening music to traffic sounds or even cell phones buzzing to video games chiming? It seems like we are surrounded by a never-ending array of various noises. Sure, we may try to block it out, but what do we typically do? We either put in our ear buds and listen to our favorite song, or we retreat to our rooms and turn on our favorite television shows. Moreover, if the outside noise gets to be too much, we just crank ours up louder in order to hear it better because to us it doesn’t come across as noise.
Sound, in itself can be either pleasing or irritating. What someone may consider very moving and inspiring, like perhaps a classical musical overture, may be grating or unnerving to someone else. So, when does sound cross the line and become noise?
Well, by definition sound is simply something audible that can be heard. Technically, it is made up of vibrations traveling through either the air, water or some other medium that hits our ear and is of a frequency that can be picked up and gives a particular impression or quality. However, there is another definition for the word sound, it is also an implication formed from limited but significant information, usually implying that it is sensible (based on good sense and valid reasoning), without any serious damage or decay, free from injury or disease, it is deep, peaceful and complete. Hence, I believe this definition holds the clues as to when sound become noise to us when it performs the opposite. In other words, when it creates damage (maybe to our physical eardrums), when it causes dis-ease or is not peaceful.
Of course, the dictionary definition of noise covers these concepts too but words it slightly differently by calling noise an unpleasant sound, irritating, unwanted, a loud clamor or commotion. In physics, it is also defined as a random disturbance in an electric circuit that interferes with the reception of a signal and in computer terminology, it is unwanted or meaningless data intermixed with the relevant information.
I guess it all comes down to what we are listening for that determines if sound is something more than noise to us. Here’s a good illustration I came across: A man who lived in the busy downtown of a major metropolis had a friend who lived in a remote secluded country area visit him. As they walked down the street, the country man asked the city man if he heard the chirping cricket. The city goer said all he could hear was the hustle and bustle of those individuals around them. So, the country man walked over to a nearby bush, knelt down and picked up the cricket. He then explained to his friend that our ears are always listening it’s just a matter of what we’re in tune to listen for. With that, he reached into his pocket and dropped a handful of coins on to the sidewalk. Almost instantaneously, everyone near by stopped and looked.
So what are we listening for or better yet what should we be listening for and why is it that all this noise seems so set on keeping us from hearing it?
I believe the main thing we should be listening for is the voice of God, as he is always attempting to speak to us, to communicate with us on a regular basis. But why don’t we hear it? Because of the distraction of noise!
Noise can be very distracting. Think of a sporting event where the home team fans are encouraged to make as much noise as possible in order to unnerve and rattle the opponent from performing at their best. This is exactly the strategy the devil has taken to keep us from hearing God’s voice and for us to perform at our very best.
It is true that God’s voice is always calling us, just read these quotes from scripture:
“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:8-10)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 KJV)
Notice in the quote from Genesis that the sentence structure seems somewhat strange. It seems to imply that the voice of God was walking in the garden. Because of this unique structure, many newer versions have reworded the phrase in their attempt to make it more sensible such as saying it was the sound of God walking in the garden. But by making this slight change they have totally lost the impact of what was trying to be conveyed. How do we know this, because we take the Genesis quote in conjunction with the quote from the gospel of John and we can easily see that God is the Word. In other words, God and the Word (or his voice) are inseparable. This can be substantiated further when we understand that the world created by God was created through his speaking it into existence. Hence, God is always speaking, but more specifically, he is always speaking directly to us. Why don’t we hear him?
The main reason is the devil who attempts to be a substitution for God is trying to speak to us as well but his voice is disturbing, distracting and discouraging. His voice usually comes through noise and the louder the better. While Gods voice is soothing, healing and encouraging, but often quiet.
“And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1-Kings 19:9-13 KJV)
Why does the great God of the universe who wields all power, majesty and might choose to speak so softly to us? Wouldn’t it seem rather to make sense that he would speak with a loud, perhaps even brash voice, full of splendor, authority and noise? Well, he could if he wanted to but he doesn’t. Why not? (Since on the surface this would seem to make sense, it is exactly why satan chooses to do so in order that those who don’t know better will think he is god and listen to him.)
Have you ever been frightened by a loud noise, has it caught you by surprise and you’ve wondered what it was? “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2-Timothy 1:7 KJV) This is why God doesn’t shout at us.
On the other hand, when someone whispers to you, how do you usually respond? You stop what you are doing, you lean in to them and you concentrate on what they are saying. Why? So, you catch everything that is being said, which will eliminate confusion and help you understand. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1-Corinthians 14:33 KJV)
He wants you to hear him and because he doesn’t want you to be confused about what he has to tell you, he uses a still small voice to speak to you. However, only those who are listening for it, who concentrate and pay attention, will hear it. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” (John 10:27 KJV)
Therefore, if you are being distracted by all the noise surrounding you and you are feeling somewhat discouraged by it all, please take heart and know that God wants to speak comfort into your heart. Specifically he says; “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10 KJV)
I would encourage you today to find somewhere that you can shut the world out for a few moments, perhaps grab a bible and just be quiet. You might be amazed by what you hear!