If there’s one thing I’ve been craving in the last few months, it’s been less.
Less noise. Less debating and arguing in the comments section. Less talk of politics. Less tension. Less disaster, less fighting, less heartbreak, less grief.
“I want the opposite of noise. I want quiet,” Aliza Latta writes in her (in)courage article “If the World Feels Too Noisy.” I so agree. I’ve been thinking about this for months -- the world seems louder than ever, the pressure seems to be mounting, and each new day seems to bring a whole new host of bad news and heated headlines to spark more tension among us all. I’ve been desperately seeking quiet, stillness, rest, less.
“The idea of silence and solitude, or at least the way I have interpreted it, is that you come before the Father and rest in the presence of God,” Latta writes. Doesn’t the thought of that just feel like a breath of fresh air?
The best way I’m finding to start? It’s small. It’s as simple as one small thing at a time. I started by waking up an hour earlier. I set the alarm, put it across the room so the snooze button wasn’t in reach, and I just started with a little more time in the morning. I turned the notifications off on my phone, and kept the “do not disturb” feature on until later in the day so nothing would distract me. Less, less, less. Then, with the new year, I started a new Bible reading plan. Just a few short passages each day, but I started with intentional time in the Word each morning instead of mindless scrolling. Less, less, less. I cancelled our cable plan. I cancelled monthly subscriptions. I turned the radio off in my car on my morning commute. Less, less, less.
Over time, these little things have been adding up. I’m realizing that the less I have in my life of the noise, the distractions, the worldly things, the more time and love and attention I can give to God. It’s so simple, but so life-changing. The less I fill my life, my heart, and my mind with what the world offers, the more I'm reminded of the truth of what God offers: unconditional love, salvation, intimacy in a relationship with him, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and so much more.
Less of the clutter makes more room for what matters most -- loving my God and loving my neighbors. Less of the distractions means more clarity -- about who God is, and who I am in him.
“When you spend time with God,” Latta writes, “He starts to reveal feelings to you that you didn’t quite recognize before.”
Latta shares a passage of Scripture that illustrates this well. In 1 Kings 19, we find Elijah in a cave at night, just after we read that he’s afraid, exhausted, and praying to die. This is when the Lord comes to visit him.
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 King 19: 11-13)
“God was not in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. Instead, He was in the quiet,” says Latta. “I get caught up in the idea of wanting God to show me something big. And don’t get me wrong; God can do huge, remarkable things. But recently He’s been teaching me to meet Him in the quiet, to come before Him, silent and stripped down. No accolades, no accomplishments, no aspirations. Just me. When the world is noisy and feels like it’s emptying us, God meets us in the quiet and slowly fills us back up.”
I’m realizing this too, in these small habits and practices I’ve been implementing in my life. When I scrolled through my Twitter feed before my eyes shut at night, I was missing the opportunity to pray and hear from God. When I grabbed my phone first thing in the morning to catch up on what I missed overnight, I was putting the worries of the world before my worship of my Savior. But now? When I’m choosing less? I’m seeing him more. I’m drawing near to him more, and loving him more.
Putting God first puts everything else into its proper place.
Less, less, less.
Less noise. Less stress. Less fear. Less anxiety.
More quiet. More peace. More trust. More confidence.
“If the world is too noisy and you need some quiet,” Latta says, “sit in the presence of God and ask Him to show you who you are, not who you should be. I’ll give you a hint: you are loved, and cherished, and treasured, and whole.”
Photo credit: Unsplash
Publication date: February 16, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com