Dear Restaurant Owner,
I come to your eatery for two things:
- To eat.
- To have a conversation.
That’s it. I don’t need a TV, and I certainly don’t need multiple TVs. Just let me chew my food and have a conversation without competing with the noise of a TV commercial listing all the side-effects of the world’s greatest pill.
Sorry to sound like a culinary curmudgeon, but if I want to watch TV, I can stay home with a spoon and jar of peanut butter (crunchy). I understand having TVs in sports bars; you go there to eat and watch nine TVs with simultaneous games of football, soccer, hockey, and miniature golf. (And if the restaurant is in the south, NASCAR). Anymore, if I want a restaurant with no TV, I have to go to a fancy high-end steak restaurant … or a not-so-fancy Waffle House.
This is not a rant against restaurants. Restaurants just mimic what we do with our lives—and what we do is fill our lives with noise and visual stimulation. At home, the TV is always on, even if we’re doing other things. In the car, music, podcasts, or talk radio are always playing. Noise is a constant in our lives. It’s no wonder people have a hard time focusing on one thing.
With the cacophony of noise and sounds constantly in our ears, if God’s Holy Spirit spoke to us, would we hear?
Yes, God speaks to us through music. He speaks through a good sermon or podcast. But He also speaks through the silence.
Elijah is a good example. He had been doing some great things for God, but he was discouraged and his life was threatened—so he hoofed it out of town. He journeyed to Mount Horeb, the same place Moses had first encountered God. I don’t think Elijah went there for a Moses-like encounter; I think he went there to feel sorry for himself and tell God, “I quit.”
I don’t know what Elijah was expecting, but when God told him, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence” (1 Kings 19:11), God put on a show for him. We like the razzle-dazzle of a good show, don’t we? We like those things that stimulate our senses—powerful music, a good guitar lick, and maybe the occasional fog machine—and we equate this with worship and encountering God. But God topped all that and did one better for Elijah.
- Powerful winds
- The earth quaking
- Fire (probably lightning)
All the things that make us shout, “God is awesome!”
But Elijah knew the presence of God was not in those things. They pointed to the majesty and power of God, but it took something far subtler for Elijah to experience God.
A quiet whisper.
“When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle” (1 Kings 19:13)., In other words, Elijah hid his face because he knew he was now in the presence of God.
Elijah didn’t need the razzle-dazzle. He didn’t need a loud exclamation of God’s presence—and neither do we. We don’t need the noise. Silence makes us uncomfortable, but it’s often with the sound of silence we must clearly hear God.
Leon bravely got on one knee, opened the jewelry box, and uttered the words he’s been practicing for weeks, ” Sylvia, will you marry me?”
Sylvia never answered. She was head-bopping to the overhead 80s music and watching the replays from last night’s hockey games. Sylvia never answered because Sylvia never heard.
Turn off. Tune out the world. Enjoy the silence and you just might hear the quiet whisper of God and His proposal.
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I coach HS football in Oklahoma…I’m a defensive backs coach. One thing I continually tell my players is “avoid the noise” in the play. It’s all a distraction. When there’s lots of pre-snap movement with receivers in motion, or running backs moving to a receivers position, that’s the noise. Once the ball is snapped it’s just football, the rest was meant to distract us. I want them to focus on what they’ve been taught…avoid the noise and react in a beneficial way. God wants the same from us. Don’t get distracted by all the movement in our lives. Focus on what God wants for us and what he would have us to do and react in the right way.
Great illustration! Thanks for sharing, Jim.