by Edmond Ng
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- And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:12 KJV)
Peace and quiet however is hard to come by these days, especially for those of us living in the city. Disturbances and disruptions are a norm in our daily lives. Whether we are at the gardens or parks, the beaches, at work or at other places, noise is always prevalent. We seldom can hear fully what is spoken to us amid surrounding noise.
In communication studies, barriers in communication are referred to as noise. The goal of all communication is to understand the message conveyed. Whatever disrupts the communication process is therefore regarded as noise. Noise is anything that interferes with the understanding of a communication, and it can come from external or internal. If we are conversing with someone while another person near us is talking out loud, the noise disturbance is external. If someone is speaking to us while our minds are miles away, the noise is internal.
Besides external and internal noise, there is a third noise known as semantic noise. Semantic noise is the use of signifiers or references made by the sender which cannot be understood by the receiver. If we tell a non-believer he must be born again to be saved, for example, he is unable to understand what we mean by Ďborn againí until we explain what it is clearly. Such a noise is semantic.
Like the barriers in communication, the Bible also tells of a time when Elijah the prophet was influenced by surrounding noise. While fleeing from Jezebel, Elijah was directed by the LORD to go up to the mountain to stand before Him as He was about to pass by (1 Kings 19:11). A strong wind came by, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind, an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. All these are just noise. Finally, the LORD spoke to Elijah in a still small voice, and Elijah heard it (1 Kings 19:11-13).
Days or hours before Elijah was able to hear the still small voice, he was not at all calm to hear God on three counts. First, he was praying that he might die (1 Kings 19:4), obviously under the influence of internal noise and lacking inner peace. Second, he was unable to find God within nature because of external noise from the wind, earthquake and fire. Third, he failed to observe how God has been taking care of him or understand Godís message beyond the semantic noise and signifiers that showed so clearly Godís presence with him (1 Kings 19:5-8).
Are we like Elijah surrounded by too much noise that we fail to recognize the presence of God? Are we calm at heart or are we easily influenced by noise? If we are constantly surrounded by disturbances or noise nearly every moment of our lives, it is important that we find peace and quiet amid all the noise. Without a heart of solitude and a calm spirit, we seldom can hear God.
Let us therefore take time to quiet ourselves before the Lord, whether at home in a quiet corner or at a place with scheduled time for no interruption or away from the crowd to a place of solitude. Let us listen carefully to the still small voice and the prompting of the Holy Spirit that we may be refreshed and renewed with heighten sensitivity to the leading of our Lord. Let us rekindle our first love for Jesus.
Calm our spirit Lord that we may enter into Your presence with longing desire in our hearts. Rekindle in us Lord our first love for You that we may once again hear You even amid all the noises of this earth. Refresh and renew us Lord so we may heighten our sensitivity to Your leading that we may also be sensitive to others when leading them to You. Thank You, dear Lord, for caring for us always. We love You and worship You with all our hearts.
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