Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Come Aside

I recently started a program of regular fasting--not from food but from an aspect of life where I have an even worse "can't stand to do without it" idolatry problem. Sunday mornings and every fourth Friday are now times for fasting from information input: no reading except the Bible, no computer time, no telephone, no forms of media except Christian music. I have some maturing to do before I can look forward to these "fast periods" with joy; often, the evening immediately preceding is marked by a pervasive dread of being bored to death.

Most of us are effectively terrified of stillness and silence. When we cram our brains with outside input in the manner of soldiers throwing up a defense barricade, when we attack our daily duties with all-out fight-or-flight adrenalin, is it all due to fear of falling behind or seeming lazy? Or are we, somewhere on the semiconscious level, afraid that God's "still small Voice" will get through and tell us to go the last place we want to go, to do the last thing we want to do, to give up forever something we doubt we could live without? Many a person shrinks from medical exams as though they somehow caused life-threatening illness; the spiritual equivalent is convincing ourselves that ignoring God will save us from both the pain of following His instructions and the sin of defying Him outright. But just as a treatable medical condition may grow into a lethal one while someone continues to pretend it can't be there, "protecting" ourselves from God's input will only free our spiritual problems to grow steadily worse.

Better to take periodic, even indefinite, breaks from earthly loves on our own volition, than to let them grow to the point where they endanger our very souls. It's not a pleasant experience when God forcibly rips something away for our own good.

The world is a rush of flash and noise,
From traffic to buzzing phone,
And everyone clamoring for your ear,
And high shortage of time alone.
If you want to rest from the endless din,
And listen to God's soft Voice,
You must come aside through your own free will,
Your own effort and your own choice.

The mind quickly fills with flash and noise,
And hummings of idle thought,
And worries and fears and the daily rush,
And the duties that life has brought.
If you want to shut out the endless din,
And hear when God speaks to you,
You must still your thoughts through your own free will,
And trust Him to direct you true.

The mad din of the world is bad enough,
But when it invades the brain
Through its endless siege, then the din within
Is still louder in its refrain.
And it is hard work to find time for rest:
But if you would do God's will,
You must trust that He will give you His strength
So your soul may at last be still!

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