“Overcoming Ambient Noise in Your Life!
(This post takes about 3.5 minutes to read)
For weeks, I’ve had my annual retreat to Woodall Shoals in North Georgia on my calendar. You may never have heard of Woodall Shoals—it’s a Class 5 rapid and an exceedingly tricky “keeper hydraulic” on the lower section of the Chattooga River. But you know of it, because it’s just upstream of the infamous scene from the 1972 film, Deliverance. I’ve kayaked that section of the river many times, but now—some forty years later—I’m content to watch others do it. I’ve never forgotten that Woodall can snatch your life away in a few careless seconds; that’s its legacy. Out of respect, perhaps, I’ve claimed a special rock shelf there that overlooks “the keeper” . . . and for more than fifteen years now, I make an annual trek there. And like the biblical account in 1 Samuel 3:9, when I get to the river’s edge, I pause and repeat Eli’s instructions to young Samuel, “Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.”
Over the years, my prayer and solitude retreats at Woodall Shoals have served me very well. It’s the best place I know of to tamp down the ambient noise in my life and listen to what God has to say to me. I confess that too much of my prayer life is invested in asking God for something . . . speaking, not listening. That’s not all bad; much of that prayer is in intercession for others. But I also need to know how and where God wants to direct my life . . . e.g., decisions that affect my family, ministry initiatives I should take-on (or release), how to address messy conflict situations, and where I’m in deficit mode on my spiritual journey. Yes, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
In the rearview mirror of life, I note that some of the most important decisions in the last dozen years have been made at Woodall Shoals. It was there that I decided to leave my business and pursue a ministry career. Another iteration produced my Five Pillars of Ministry and a ten-year vision. In still another encounter came the inspiration to write Metamorphyx. None of these are hidden mysteries emerging from a “magical” rock alongside a famous river. Rather, they are all products of intentionally ratcheting down the ambient noise and busyness in life . . . and listening to what God has on his agenda for me in the solitude of a quiet place.
“Ambient noise” is the natural by-product of busy-ness in your life. Both have never been higher in our human existence. They’re fueled today by the social media steroid and an incredibly complex, activity-based culture that somehow demands more from us (and our kids!) every week. Says author and pastor John Ortberg, “Busyness is not from the devil, it IS the devil!” If you think that’s an exaggerated judgment of our culture, ask yourself this; “When did I last take a day (or a few hours!) with the Lord and shove busyness aside?” If we can’t answer that question, it’s likely that many of the unresolved issues in our lives will remain, well . . . unresolved due to lack of guidance and wisdom from God’s Spirit. Time alone with God, regretfully, is frequently the casualty of a jammed calendar . . . and we pay a heavy price for it.
Last week’s venture to Woodall Shoals was no less fruitful than any visit I’ve made to the North Georgia wilderness. I confess, though, that I wrestled mightily with the weight of pressing priorities on the home front . . . and nearly ditched the whole idea. But shortly after getting settled in my spot—and taking in a few deep breaths of the fresh mountain air—God again honored my commitment and “Speak, Lord,” request.
God is certainly not obligated to respond to our appeals, but I’ve learned he often does. Why? Because time alone with God honors our relationship with him and often results in a richly inspired life experience, life change discovery process that he blesses. In the busyness of daily life, I’ve learned that spiritual wisdom and guidance often remain buried beneath the ambient noise of the casual life traveler—but it’s often revealed to the life purpose explorer who says, “Speak Lord, I’ve made time to listen; this day is marked for you on my calendar.”
My journal entry from last Tuesday attests again to the truth that God loves to speak into our lives. Here’s what I heard:
§ Like Jabez, I hear you aspiring to “enlarge your territory” and ministry impact. (1 Chronicles 4:10). To that end, stay chained to Exodus 33:14, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Anchor your heart to Psalm 143:8-10; “Let the morning bring you word of my unfailing love, as you trust in me.” Embrace the prevailing wisdom of Psalm 46:10; learn when to “Be still” . . . but always approach life with a bold gospel intentionality. “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything find my peace which transcends all understanding. It will guard your heart in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-6). And don’t forget, hold tightly to the promises of Psalm 92:13-15 . . . “flourish in the courts of your God . . . bear fruit in old age, and stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; he is my Rock.’”
Hoping you will book your personal retreat soon! If you need a “How To” agenda, contact me.
Note: “Metamorphyx Insights” are taken from Metamorphyx: Embracing Life Experience, Life Change, and Life Purpose. Each represents a significant learning or application on your personal Metamorphyx Journey. Find Metamorphyx on Amazon, B&N, or Apple iTunes.