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Saturday, May 27, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Addicted to noise? "Silence" is a 1-step program that works

Special to The Seattle Times

It was a very normal day until I realized that I was actively destroying my own soul.

The day began with my alarm jolting me from a sleep that was far too brief. I turned on my BlackBerry to hear it chime for each voice mail and e-mail that had been left while I slept. I stepped into the shower where I listened to my waterproof radio. I then turned on the television to catch some news while I dressed. Driving to work I tuned in to some talk-radio banter.

Throughout the day the chime on my laptop kept ringing as e-mail arrived, and my cellphone continued to vibrate and ring on my hip. Before long, I needed a break, and I put on my iPod to go for a walk.

On the drive home, I again listened to the radio, and after eating dinner and tucking my five children into bed, I turned on the television to watch shows I'd recorded on my TiVo.

As I drifted off to sleep, it dawned on me that I had not had one minute of silence during my entire day. It was possible, I realized, that I could live the rest of my life without ever again experiencing silence.

In that moment, it dawned on me that I was addicted to the false trinity of our day, the gods known as Hurry, Worry and Noisy.

I began pondering what Jesus' life might be like if he lived today. Would he be available to all of his followers 24 hours a day on his BlackBerry? Would he have left his phone on at the Last Supper and been continually interrupted by calls? Would he have failed to stop and speak to needy people because their weeping was not loud enough for him to hear over his iPod as he hurried past on his way to a meeting he was already late for?

In that moment I prayed, asking God for wisdom and help to save me from myself. God answered my prayer and reminded me that Jesus often took periods of prayerful silence to ensure not that he was doing everything he could, but that he was doing what was most important.

For example, before beginning his public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days abstaining from food, people and noise to prepare himself to fully accomplish what God had given him to do on the Earth.

The Bible says in Luke 5:16 that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places." Jesus spent considerable time alone in silence to pray, rest and focus. This helps to explain why, in just three short years of ministry, Jesus had a greater impact on history than anyone else who has ever lived.

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Since realizing my addiction to noise, I have sought to model my life more on Jesus' life, which has proved quite helpful. I try to spend at least five minutes an hour in silence, at least 30 minutes in uninterrupted silence each day and a full day in silence once a month.

During these times I find myself going for silent prayer walks to listen to God, sitting to write in my journal, and sometimes doing nothing at all, which for me has become an act of faith that God is at work even when I am not.

My prayer is that those reading this, who like me are guilty of noise addiction, can also experience the regular gift of silence because that is often where God is waiting for us.

Pastor Mark Driscoll is founder of the nondenominational Mars Hill Church in Ballard. He and four other columnists — the Rev. Patrick J. Howell, Rabbi Mark S. Glickman, the Rev. Patricia L. Hunter and Aziz Junejo — take turns writing for the Faith & Values page. Readers may send feedback to faithpage@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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