Peace. Be Still.

AS A STUDENT IN ACADEMY and college, I used to hang wall plaques or small posters in my room—or place them on my desk—with verses I discovered and valued as I read my Bible through:

  • “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV). This was the first verse I underlined in my Bible.
  • Then I also found a plaque that read: “Paul said: ‘This one thing I do’—not, ‘These 40 things I dabble in.’”
  • But the plaque I’ve been remembering lately said: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” Isaiah 30:15.

I tend toward being a rather voluble and outgoing sort by nature. Perhaps even a bit too much so. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” But my closest friend has convinced me that in fact, remaining silent can cause others to suspect that one possesses wisdom worth discovering.

All of the preceding is prologue to one of my ruminations of late: This world has grown far too noisy. And I’d be well served to do my part to reduce that noise pollution.

You pull up to an intersection. Suddenly, the earth moves, your body lurches, and your vision blurs as the car next to you—windows down and boom-box speakers blaring—blasts out a wave of pounding rap music loud enough to blow out your eardrums and loosen your teeth.

You’re watching TV when they cut to a commercial. Suddenly the volume doubles as yet another high-pressure pitch assaults you with a buzz-saw voice that could cut through titanium.

Cities are a cacophony of noise: sirens, jackhammers, car horns, jets screaming overhead, video game hangouts, shouting voices….

In suburbia and the countryside, it’s leaf blowers, motorcycles, car alarms, lawn mowers, chain saws, and businesses that use P.A. systems to page employees in the back lot.

According to NoiseOFF: The Citizens Coalition Against Noise Pollution, people continuously exposed to noise experience elevated stress levels, mood swings, hypertension, depression, and lost sleep and productivity. In children, it results in slowed learning.

But it’s not just health that’s impacted by too much noise. It takes a toll on us emotionally and mentally—and especially spiritually. How really can we hear the “still small voice” while bombarded with high-decibel bedlam?

If you can get far enough into nature to escape all human-generated noise, it’s amazing how basking in the quiet can truly nourish the soul and the senses. You do hear low-level sound: water flowing, birds singing, animals calling, the breeze sweeping through treetops. But it’s quiet enough that finally, you can hear your own thoughts. Quiet enough to reflect, to unwind, to relax—and yes, to hear that still, small voice. I have little doubt that part of the enemy’s plan is to drown out that voice in a sea of noise.

Some noise we can’t escape. But some we can. We can talk less and listen more. We can turn off the TV and listen to peaceful music instead. We can do our best to get into the quietness of nature.

Quietness. Confidence. Strength. The verse linked them. Try for the first—and see how it affects the others.

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