Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ear Plugs

Ear plugs.  Last week I became the proud owner of several pairs of those amazing little cones of foam.  Roll and squish them, insert them (carefully!) into the ear, hold as they expand, and marvel as the music, roosters, dogs, people, recede.  Aaaaah!

Of course, the noises don’t completely go away, which is good!  I need to hear my alarm in the morning.  But, the ear plugs block enough sound to allow me to fall asleep, which, at night, is the most important thing for me to focus on!
When I worked in processing plants, ear plugs were a requirement.  Yes, they filtered out enough of the noise to protect our hearing, but another interesting thing happened.  While the ear plugs blocked out the majority of the sound, they also enabled us to speak – and be heard. 

Like with my alarm clock, ear plugs actually helped me be able to focus on the important noise, that of a conversation.

My life is very ‘noisy’ right now.  There is a constant ‘hum’ of noise where I live and work.  As I’m typing this, I can hear roosters, other birds, dogs, goats, insects, kids, adults, music, TV, trucks, motos, rain and wind. 
More than that, though, is the ‘noise’ of different voices and obligations.  This includes the women, teens and girls of El Callejon, the students and outreach participants, those donating to my ministry, my friends and family back home, my home church, Students International, the DR leadership, Daisy, myself…

All of these are important, all contribute to my life, my ministry.  But, how do I make certain that I don’t allow all of these voices to keep me from hearing the One who called me here, our Triune God?
How do I filter out all the noise so I can hear God’s voice?  How I wish there were a pair of ‘holy ear plugs’ to allow me to keep out the other sounds and voices – even my own thoughts!  In fact, my own thoughts are the hardest ones to silence! 

Perhaps some of you think that since I’m a missionary, it’s easy for me to wake up every day praising God.  After all, I’m on the ‘front lines’ in many ways, with the task and privilege of talking openly about Jesus each and every day.

The truth is I often wake up, not with thoughts turned to glorifying Him, but with a ‘to-do’ list immediately forming.  Like all the voices, it’s good, important stuff.  But… is it keeping me from hearing the only Voice that truly matters?
Oh, yeah, a pair of ‘holy ear plugs’ would be awesome!

Unfortunately, there is no simple and easy way to block out those other sounds.  Instead, I believe it is an act of my will, working in coordination with the Holy Spirit.  The apostle Paul talks about taking every thought captive (II Corinthians 10:5) to make it obedient to Christ.   
For me, the only way to learn how to block out all those noises is making a choice.  And not just once, but each and every morning.  A choice to either allow the needs of my day to quickly overwhelm me, or to take time away, praising God for His good gifts, spending time with Him, for no other purpose than to be in His glorious presence.

The only One who already knows what our day is going to hold invites us to capture our spinning thoughts, surrendering them to Christ.  He invites us to come away with Him for a time. 
Oh, friends, that’s far, far better than some bits of foam stuffed into our ears!  Let’s pray for each other as we strive to capture our thoughts, and then spend time listening to the Voice of the One who calls us Beloved.

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