One day last week I was deep in the trenches of editing a publication my office produces every year. I had Kentucky Sports Radio playing and my coffee cup was full and nearby so it was pretty much the perfect work scenario. Within a few minutes I was surrounded by a cacophony of noise- a construction crew doing roof repairs, multiple students carrying on a conversation right outside my door, a couple co-workers talking just feet away. I was suddenly pulled out of my work groove and into what felt like a black hole of noise. It was impossible to read, concentrate or even hear my radio show. It was suffocating and overwhelming. I took an early lunch that day.
If I’m being honest, my whole life feels like those few moments right now. I have things right in front of me that I want to focus on and voices I want to hear, but life is throwing every possible distraction and noise in the path. These distractions aren’t always bad things, and often they aren’t, but I think that good things can often pull us away from even greater things. I cannot focus on what I need to in my life because of the noise around me.
This isn’t unique to me or even unique to our times. In Exodus Moses has to go up on Mount Sinai to meet with God, to see him and hear him above all the noise. Jesus, before beginning his public ministries, went to the desert and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights where he was also tempted by Satan. The night before Jesus was crucified he went by himself at Gethsemane to pray. These examples remind me that it is often necessary for us to step away from the chaos, noise and distractions to be by ourselves with God.
As we head into the lenten season tomorrow, I can’t let go of the realization that my life is noisy and that I need to do something about it. The concept of giving something up for lent is based on Jesus’ time in the desert which is found in Matthew 4, Mark 1 and Luke 4. It’s been a long time since I gave something up for lent- it had become this obligation rather than a discipline rooted in the desire to grow closer to the Lord (and let’s be realistic, my tradition of giving up my favorite candy so I got more of it in my easter basket did very little for my spiritual growth.) Once I realized this, I gave up giving things up until I felt that it was the Lord prompting the practice, not a religious check list.
Heading into this lenten season, I’m asking the Lord to help me cut out the noise. As I have prayed and thought about unnecessary, removable noise in my life, social media clearly rose to the top. So, for this lenten season I’m heading to the desert of actually talking to people in real life. Before going to bed tonight, I’m going to remove the accounts from my phone and iPad, and log out on my computer. I won’t be checking Facebook, Twitter or Instagram until Easter.
In a weird way, I’m sorta excited! With elections and all sorts of scandals always in the news, these places have become sources of conflict and frustration. I’m excited to remove that and hopefully hear the Lord more clearly in these 40 days. I’m also a little sad, because in general as a society we depend on these things to deliver news. So if you’re going to announce a baby, engagement, death or some other significant life news between now and Easter, call me or email me, ok? And just as a matter of record- my blog automatically posts to social media (thank you technology) so when I post here, it will still post there. Don’t think I’m cheating for self promotion.
I’m excited to see what this lenten season holds. I hope that you’ll consider entering into some sort of listening intentionally to next steps for you as well.