I used to drive back and forth between Florida and Ohio for school–18 hours each way, and I would dread the lonely road. I would listen to music and call friends. I even tried watching movies–which I don’t recommend while you’re driving–all to avoid sitting in a quiet car by myself. Life is different now; the less I have time to be quiet, the more I desire it. Though I desire quiet times, I avoid them like a plague.
I just recently had the opportunity to spend a week in Colorado. The Rocky Mountains are truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. If you’re looking for a place to get alone and experience silence, you would think this would be it. Between my wife and I and our two kids, my parents, and my siblings and their families, there were 16 of us all staying in one house. As you can imagine, it was anything but quiet! A few of us convinced our spouses to let us sneak away for a day to go mountain biking. I haven’t mountain biked that much, but the few times I have, it truly has been one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s because I haven’t taken too gnarly of a crash yet, but the thought of just hauling as fast as I possibly can down a mountain definitely gets me stoked–especially when I’m riding a $5,000 full suspension rental bike!
But even on a mountain bike, in the middle of nowhere, there is still a battle between commotion and solidarity. We would come across other bikers and exchange a quick “hello, how are you,” and between those short conversations and my own voice in my head telling myself not to die, my mind would constantly rush back to random thoughts, concerns, or worries. At one point, I was riding behind my brother in law Lukas and I kept hearing what I thought was random dubstep music. I couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from until we came to a place where we had to bike uphill and I got close enough to realize Lukas had strapped his phone to his backpack and was playing random EDM club dubstep as loud as his phone would go! Partially embarrassed and comically annoyed we had him turn it off and we returned to the semi-quietness of the sound of the bikes and our out of shape heavy breathing.
I share all of this to say that our minds are being bombarded with noise constantly. Sometimes self inflicted, other times due to the unavoidable circumstances; but how often do we intentionally strive to quiet the world around us to hear the voice of God? Multiple times in the Gospels we read about Jesus retreating to the wilderness to be alone with God. Maybe because even Christ was surrounded by noise that was hard to escape. Between social media, the news, advertisements, the radio, friends and family, your own voice, and not to mention the enemy’s voice, it's no wonder why so many of us struggle to recognize God when He is speaking to us. Imagine trying to have an intimate conversation in the middle of a concert. Good luck!
Just like a shepherd calls his sheep to follow him, Jesus is calling us to follow Him as well. For the disciples and the same for us today, that looks like dropping everything and following him. Not an easy decision for most when it might mean giving up careers, friends, social status, etc. It definitely doesn’t look like the idea of building out a cool hipster van and road tripping across America. Following Jesus really does mean letting go of the things of this world and truly giving it all up to follow Him.
Is God trying to get your attention? Is He tugging on your heart, calling out to you to come follow Him? Or is your life so full of noise that you haven’t even allowed Him the space to speak to you? The acronym for DROP EVERYTHING AND FOLLOW is DEAF. The challenge for all of us is to go DEAF to the world around us–to the distractions that are so loud and keep us so busy–so that we truly can hear God’s voice and follow Him. It is in the act of going DEAF that you actually begin to truly hear for the very first time. So turn down that dubstep and tune in to Creator. Guaranteed you’ll be glad you did.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Luke 9:23-24