By Rev SEIK PITOI
THIS world is noisy. Noise refers to sound, usually unwanted or unpleasant sound.
Pleasant sounds may be like soothing music or sounds of nature such as a gurgling brook. But noise is destructive and may adversely affect one’s health.
Noise may come from a variety of sources. For instance, where I live, which is right by a busy highway, the traffic seems to never end. Even at midnight and into the wee hours of the morning, one can still hear vehicles powering up the hill on the UPNG side, or tearing down towards the roundabout to Rainbow. There is rarely a quiet moment at any time of the day.
One thing we had to do when we moved into our residence nearly three years ago, was to adjust to the noise. I sympathise with people living near busy airports who put up daily with the noise of aeroplanes, which are a lot louder than vehicles!
Then, there is ‘noise pollution’, a big problem in our communities. Totally disrespectful neighbours host weekend booze-ups that include playing loud blaring music from boom boxes or stereos, even after midnight! Then, when the grog does its work, arguments using filthy language take place, usually leading to fights. The whole neighbourhood is then awoken by the commotion. It’s in those times you wish the laws on noise pollution are enforced!
Apart from outside noise, think of the noise and clatter in our homes. Kids running around the house, adults talking, radios blaring away at the same time. That is ‘normal noise’ we are accustomed to, and when there is an absence of it, we take note.
For instance, when the kids suddenly stop making a racket, and there is an unusual quietness, the alert mother checks to see what is happening!
Noise and silence have their places. When two people sit together, they talk. To sit in silence and stare at each other may mean something is wrong. But some people are great talkers. They rave on and on, even when no one is listening. They can be a real nuisance.
However, if you are a ‘boss crew’ on a rural PMV that travels six hours from your village to the city, being ‘maus pas’ is terrible. It is not helpful to the driver who has no one to talk to in order for him to stay awake. He may fall asleep and cause an accident. So making noise has its place.
A noisy mind
But probably one area of noise that is dangerous is the noise in our minds. A troubled mind is filled with the unwelcome ‘noise’ of negative thoughts, as a result of stress, worry and anxiety. Even in quietness, a depressed person’s thoughts can be loud and troubling.
When the cares of the world get one to worry, the mind is in turmoil and cannot be still. This is referred to as the ‘monkey mind’.
Incidentally, the old English word for worry is wyrgan, and it means strangled. But the Greek word often used is mirimnao, which is a combination of two Greek words, merizo (divided) and nous (mind). So according to the Bible (e.g., in Matt 6: 25-27), worry means to have a divided mind! And such a mind is full of noise!
Eastern religions have their solution to that problem. Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, including yoga and others, teach meditation. In Eastern meditation, the mind is emptied and ‘um’ mantra is recited to bring deep relaxation to one’s noisy mind.
Psychologists also tell us about the need to take care of the thoughts that we entertain, as excessive worrying can result in psychological or mental problems. But what does the Bible say about our minds?
The Bible talks a lot about the mind. Jesus says to love (worship) God using all our faculties – including the mind (Mark 12:30). The armour of God includes one piece for the mind – the helmet of salvation (Eph 6:17). Moreover, Paul instructs believers to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2). This is because the mind is where the battle is played out. When the mind is attacked with doubt, fear and worry, and even unforgiveness, the rest of the body is affected adversely.
So how do we protect our minds?
Christian meditation – the quiet time
In Psalm 46:10, God commands, “Be still and know that I am God”. This verse is an excellent picture of Christian meditation. The command ‘be still’ means to cease striving, stop working. It means to sit down and quit doing stuff.
In a frenzied world with all the worries of life, the best thing to do is to calm down, stop and relax. Then, when you have settled down, you are to ‘know’ who God is.
This means to have a fresh revelation of God by intimately knowing Him. The difference between Eastern and Christian meditation is that we do not empty our minds. We fill them with Jesus! We fill them with God’s word as we meditate over His goodness and love.
Meditation has the idea of a cow chewing the cud, where she turns it over and over in her mouth. The phrase, “chew on that”, means to think about it! God told Joshua to chew God’s word over and over (meditate) to have success (Josh 1:8).
Psalm 46 begins in verses 1 to 3 with: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (That is stating the fact. God is our hiding place, our place of refuge. He is our strength when we are weak). “Therefore” (because of that fact), “we will not fear” (there is no place for fear, anxiety, worry), “though (even if) the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling (we will not fear – despite the natural, cosmic, economic and civil upheavals shaking the nations, as we are seeing today).
Then, verse 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”! So, as we meditate on this fact, we allow the revelation of who God is to sink into our minds. The knowledge that our God is able to take care of us through this pandemic, economic and social turmoil is comforting. Indeed, our God is able!
A quiet time sample
Jesus got up early in the morning or late evenings, to spend time with His Father (Mark 1:35; Matt 14: 23). That is an excellent example for us to follow. There are many variations but here are some suggestions for a quiet time:
- Set aside a quiet location in your house (or outside).
- Switch off phones so you will not be disturbed.
- Set a routine – early morning or late at night as is appropriate for you.
- Have your Bible, notebook and pen, and maybe a guitar or tape on hand (if preferred)
- Use soft worship music or instrumental in the background (optional)
- Begin with by reading a portion of Scripture.
- Then, worship Him, acknowledge His majesty, thank Him for His love and mercy.
- Continue by quietly meditating over His word. Allow Him to speak to you.
- Write down any impression He gives you, a command to obey, a sin to confess, or an action to take.
- Finally, make intercession for your family and those He places on your heart.
- Close with a final prayer.
If you are new to this, you may do it briefly, taking maybe 10 minutes in all. Then, as you get accustomed to it, increase the time gradually. Soon, you will be surprised to find that you are spending an hour communing with the Lord (Matt 26:40).
People are busy working. Many work hard to make money, spending endless hours burning the candle on both ends, obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder. They have no time for God. Many eventually burn out and die.
In the church, it is more subtle. Some people run from one crusade to the next, attending conventions, doing all sorts of church work. Why? Who are we trying to impress? Some say, “Enough praying, let’s just run crusades”! And they burn themselves out!
Two sisters were the same. One couldn’t stop working, trying to impress the Master. But the other sister stooped at the Master’s feet – the place of humility, submission and worship. There, she took in His every word. When the ‘working’ sister complained, the Master said, “Martha, Martha! You are worried (mirimnao) and troubled over so many things, but just one is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42).
Serve God, get busy for Him, sweat for your business and make your money – but always come back to that place of quiet rest.
Rest your weary mind, quieten your heart, and reconnect with the Lord. He speaks shalom (peace) into your fears (John 20:19; 14:27; 16:33).
Allow His love to refresh you and His word to strengthen you – then move on again with renewed grace to face another day.
- Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.