The Quiet Place
2022 is coming...and we've never been this way before
I have hearing problems.
It’s been a thorn in my side for as long as I can remember. They first started conducting hearing tests in 4th grade and I distinctly remember being the only classmate called back for a second test. I have a condition that audiologist call “genetic nerve deafness” and outside of a miracle from God, it will progressively get worse. It’s something I inherited from my father.
Every year like clockwork I get my hearing tested and they sit me down in a tiny sound-proof room to limit the background noise. Audiologist call it an anechoic chamber and even the name sounds a bit ominous, like something out of a thriller movie. The Anechoic Chamber… coming soon to a theater near you.
The truth of the matter is, it is a bit creepy. I’ve only experienced the smaller version with a window to the outside world, but the largest of these chambers are designed to be completely sound proof. They often use fiberglass wedges on the walls and ceiling and many are encased in cement a meter or more thick. The experience of being inside one can be quite frightening. Why?
Because it is so quiet. The idea behind an anechoic chamber is to remove outside noises and reverberating sound waves and the result is a deafening silence.
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The Quiet Place
Silence is crucial.
Sightless aliens with sharp hearing have taken over the planet and killed most of the human population. This is the basic plot of “The Quiet Place”, a dystopian thriller starring Emily Blunt and John Krasinski. The story follows a married couple and their children as they live on an isolated farm in the middle of the forest. Their primary obsession? Be as quiet as possible in order to escape the aliens.
Fortunately for us, when life gets noisy and hectic we don’t run the risk of rousing alien life forms to hunt us down as prey. But make no mistake, it is spiritually dangerous to live a noisy life. If we want to survive spiritually in 2022, we will need to remove the noise.
Psalm 46 has become my go-to-global-pandemic psalm and it reads,
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
The image of chaos and noise in this psalm mirrors our current reality. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms are falling, people are dying, disease is spreading, social media is blaring, deaths are mounting, and economies are struggling. In the midst of the commotion and distraction and danger, God speaks and he says,
“Be still and know that I am God”.
These are words we need to ponder. Be still.
There is a stillness that recognizes God as sovereign. He is in charge. He is still on the throne. But there is also a stillness that is necessary for discerning his voice. We need a “quiet place”, an anechoic chamber that removes the outside noise allowing us focus our attention on Him.
Do you have a “quiet place”?
One more illustration before landing the plane.
Katie and I have four children and one of them was born with colic, not to mention being a light sleeper. Surviving those early years with our daughter was rough. We tried everything to get her to fall asleep and finally broke down and paid $35.99 for a little white canister that did one thing and one thing only.
It produced white noise.
Immediately after plugging it in, our child fell fast asleep. Why? She could no longer hear the sounds of the night, the opening of doors, the thump of footsteps, or the click of a switch. The white noise deadened her sense of hearing.
Life is a white noise maker.
The 24/7 news cycles, smart phones, sporting events, and social media apps have each deadened us to the still, small voice of God. Alien life forms, white noise machines, and anechoic chambers all illustrate the fact that we need to cultivate a “quiet place” in order to hear from God. The noise of the world around us has a way of distracting us and deadening our souls.
It also has a way of leading us in the wrong direction.
Preparing for 2022
I was reading the Old Testament recently and came across Joshua 3:4,
“Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”
The Israelites are preparing to enter uncharted territory and Joshua instructs them to keep their eyes fixed on the Ark of the Covenant. They had never been that way before. The same is true today.
We have entered uncharted territory.
I’ve written previous articles on the nature of the post-Christian, postmodern, digital Babylon we are currently experiencing in North America. We have never been this way before. No one has been this way before. There is no clear roadmap for life and ministry in 2022. The way forward will not be found in “5 Strategic Moves” or “7 Easy Steps”.
Instead, it will require listening.
We will need to learn how to cultivate a “quiet place” for hearing God’s voice. In the 1st century, the disciples heard the audible words of God and they followed. Jesus spoke to them in the flesh.
21st century disciples don’t have that luxury.
Instead, we have the Spirit of God and the Word of God and both are vital for our hearing. The voice won’t come with a shout or a scream. Instead, it will more than likely be a whisper. So create a spiritual anechoic chamber, a place to silence the distractions. Turn off the “white noise makers” in your life that are deadening you to spiritual things. Consider a fast. Cultivate a hunger for God.
God has something important he wants to say to you, your family, your church, and your ministry in 2022. We’ve never been this way before.
A few weeks ago I was prompted to share a verse with a friend who seemed to be moving into uncharted territory. It’s a promise from Isaiah 30:21,
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
I pray God would help you find a “quiet place” and you would hear the Spirit say, “This is the way; walk in it”. May God speak a fresh word to you as you prepare for a new year!
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