I think noise is one of the biggest inventions of the 21st century. Not because there was no noise before, but we have amplified every voice in an effort to have everyone heard that we have become really good at making noise. Everywhere you look, you will find news of some tragedy somewhere, a new fashion coming out, and a scandal by a celebrity or a politician somewhere, or a new album release. There is always something happening somewhere in the world that the rest of us are being notified through the internet or through the television.
I grew up in a small farm on the slopes of Mount Kenya. Growing up, the only noise I heard was the voices in my head and an almost clockwork loud mow by Nyota our oldest cow. This was when I was so engrossed with what was going on in my head that I forgot to give the cows their afternoon serving of fodder. Nyota is a Swahili word for stars, we called her that because she was black in colour and had huge white patches. She would mow just around 1:35 pm to remind me that since I had eaten my lunch, it was now her and her offspring’s turn to eat. That statement sounds somewhat like what some politicians tell their followers. Once fed, Nyota would allow me to go back to wonderland until my parents would come home from work. She would let out a loud mow when my dad would arrive as if to report my mistakes to him, but I never got to know what exactly she would say. I don’t speak cow. Life was blissful then, I would do my homework and play all afternoon long.
I digress. Growing up, I heard our pastor speak of how God spoke to him about a thing or two which he was going to make the main message of the day. I always wondered how God speaks. How does he sound like? I would pray for direction on a number of things and pray that God would speak into my situation and give me some wisdom on how to go forward but I would not hear anything. Then I would ask for advice and someone would ask me, “What is God saying?” I tell you up to date, I have never had a good answer for that question. It sometimes intimidates me.
With all the noise around us how do we differentiate the voice of God from all the voices speaking to us all at the same time? Work pressures, peer pressure, movies, series, news, church, where is the voice of God in all of this?
A story is told of a church in Nazi Germany during the period of the Second World War that had met for their weekly services. The church was situated next to a rail road. As the church members were singing songs of worship and praise to their redeemer a train was passing nearby on the rail road. This train had Jews who had been put in the cattle cars on their way to execution. As the train passed near the church, the Jews started to shout for help as loud as they could waving their hands through the openings of the cattle cars. In their mind, they hoped that if there was anyone who would understand their plight or do something to help, it would be the Christians.
The church heard the Jews, on their way to their death, shouting for help. The choir master of the church responded by raising the volume of the pipe organ to drown out the voices of the Jews shouting for help. The volume was kept up until the last train car had passed and the pleas for help had died out.
That would be a bizarre response to such a situation right? But I tend to wonder if that is not the same way we respond to the voice of God in our lives. We drown him out with other things because it may cost too much, it may be painful or we will look funny. How many times have I put my hand on that pipe organ volume? How many times has my heart been pricked by something I saw or experienced and I drown it out by other things? How many times have I heard a voice warning me not to do something that I know is not honouring to God and drowned it out? How many times have I sat to watch a movie or stayed up chatting when I was feeling an urge to pray over something? How many times have you had your hand at the organ volume?
I believe God speaks to us often but we don’t hear him with the volume of our organs playing so loud. James says that faith without works is dead, and I think working out our faith is merely obeying God in those small nudges that he makes. Obeying him in this way is giving him more room and authority in your life to lead. In essence the more you let him lead the more you become attentive to his voice.
In John 10:1 -18 Jesus explains that he is the good shepherd and his sheep hear his voice, and follow him. In chapter 14:15 he says “if you love me, obey my commands. God is in his word, and we can clearly see we experience more of him when we obey him more.
One of the reason we have so little experience of God in our lives is because we drown out his voice instead of listening and obeying. In what ways are you drowning out God’s voice in your life? What nudge or prick in my heart have I experienced recently that may have been God leading me?
There is some sort of train going through our lives today, it may be someone in need, a habit that we need to break, someone we need to apologize to, a prayer we should make, it could be anything. The question is not which train to listen to but what will we do to the volume of our organ?
Will we crank it up until the voice is drowned out and move on with life or will we reduce the volume and listen to what our Lord is saying
Band of rescuers Video