Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Dustin and I have been going to a small group for a few weeks where we’ve been watching Nooma videos. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Nooma is a series of short video “sermons” (I use quotes because the word sounds too preachy without them) by Christian pastor and author Rob Bell. (Who happens to be the pastor of our friends Brian and Jill’s church in Michigan.) I’ve seen a few of the films before, when Dustin used them in a couple of Campaigners lessons, and I really like them. Each video is a different topic, but all are primarily centered around Rob Bell’s teaching, using imagery, graphics, or music to support the message.

At our small group few weeks ago, we watched one called Noise which impacted me enough that I wanted to share it with you. Watch….then report back….. (and yes....I know it's long- but it's worth it. Tomorrow's a holiday. You've got time.)

So…what do you think?
Kind of unsettling right? If you’re anything like me, you’re surrounded by noise almost constantly, so sitting through roughly five minutes with no sound, no pictures, no colors, no blinking lights, no commercials is pretty rare. And for me it was surprisingly awkward. I don’t often realize how noisy my world is, but I especially don’t take note of how accustom I am to that noise, and how I’ve grown to depend on it in a way. I complain about being tired, or overwhelmed, or stressed, but how much of those feelings am I perpetuating by simply refusing to turn things off?

There were (many) moments in the video where I felt convicted.....
How does the noise in my life affect my ability to hear God?
What about the time spent talking about my problems vs. listening to God?
Does my life look like that of a person who wants to hear from God more?
Is God's voice more interesting than the other noise I fill my life with?
If I'm not still, how will God give me rest?

It touched a nerve.

You see, in a lot of ways, I love noise. After all, I’m quite the talker, and a loud one at that. I thrive on busyness (did anyone else just now realize that busyness and business are practically the same word?….deeeeeep thought.), and multi-tasking is my routine. On top of that, I’m a visual person- I crave constant stimulation…input- visual noise. I was taught in college to never turn my senses off. We were to take in as much as possible, so that we could process it, make connections and create something new. Every day, our jobs, our relationships and our world challenge us to do more, see more, experience more, but it seems that the skills needed to be a good worker, a fun friend or successful designer may not be the same skills that will draw you closer to the Lord.

Some of the noise around me is innocent, accidental. But some of it is deliberate; allowed or even encouraged by me, at the expense of the stillness, silence and rest that God desires for me. I let my life fill up with work, music, television, talking, complaining, all while squeezing God's voice into ever-decreasing compartments of time.

I had been feeling the strain and stress of noise for a while, but I didn't have the words or thoughts to explain what my heart felt. God, in His infinite wisdom brought me the message time and time again, and finally I took the time to hear it, ironically through a mostly-silent film.
At the end of our small group time, we all made commitments based on our reactions to the video. My decision was a baby step. I agreed to being "aware"- observing the noise in my life and taking note as to when I allow it, or even invite it. It may not seem like much, but God has taken this small step and already begun to bless me. I've learned that my typical day is full of chatter, and too much of it is my own. I've realized I rely on the radio, television, email or the phone to escape from my thoughts, fill up my day and avoid time with God. I take the easy way out, and in fact, often become prideful about how much I'm doing, how many things are going on, how I'm able to manage it all. But God isn't proud when I turn away. He doesn't rejoice in my activities when they take place apart from Him. He longs to be with me, and if I would stop long enough to hear feel Him, I would realize that the time wasters, space fillers, distractions and diversions are failed substitutes for a solid relationship my Father.

So I've started to make small changes in my routine; turning the radio off in favor of prayer (or even just for quiet); noticing opportunities for stillness instead of more hurried action, but I haven't gotten to the point where I've figured it out. I don't consistently listen for God's voice first above all else. I haven't learned to prioritize time with Him before the millions of other things that I'm drawn to in a day. But I'm trying. I'm seeking. I'm listening.


  1. LOVE the Nooma videos! If you have an hour and a half check out his video "Everything is Spiritual" - fascinating!!

  2. Your observation that business and busy-ness are essentially the same is apt. Although that's how I remember to spell the word (spell busy, change the y to an i...) I hadn't really made the connection that much of what makes someone a corporate success is their ability to fill the day with productive activity. That this whirl can make us proud brings yet another aspect to 1 Timothy 6:10 "love of money... pierced themselves with many griefs.")

    Great blog btw! I've added you to my Google Reader.