Monday, August 19, 2013

A Need for Quiet Time?

Back in June 2003, I rode to and from a Sunday night church service and potluck with a friend, his wife, and preschool-age son.  (For those who don't know, my mom either had to work or was taking care of my oldest sister, and my other sister and brother-in-law, who normally would have given me a ride, had something else to do.)  As soon as we got in the car to leave the church building, the little boy asked his dad some random question; I believe it was, "Daddy, is it Christmas yet?" Instead of answering the kid's question, my friend told his son, "You're on quiet time right now!" He later said that, at the potluck, his son had been "running around like a chicken with its head cut off!" I hadn't been around little kids very much, as I never had any younger siblings, so I had never heard of being "on quiet time"; even though I wasn't on it myself, I was still afraid to say anything.  The kid didn't even obey his father; he was taking whatever he could reach from his car seat and throwing it around.  Before I got dropped off at my house, my friend did say something to me, and we did chat a bit, which made me feel...well, a bit calmer.

I bring that up for one reason: Throughout my life, I have never really had any quiet time.  As a kid, I spent most of my spare time playing computer and video games, which are known for being noisy.  Even the TV shows I liked were the same way; more than one critic described the Digimon movie as "noisy," yet that was one of my favorite shows, and I loved the film.  As I got into popular music, I often had dc Talk, Audio Adrenaline, or ApologetiX playing while I was doing...well, whatever.  It became standard for me to have music playing no matter what I was doing on the computer after December 30, 2003, when I got my first computer with iTunes.  Even now, when I'm reading a book, I always have music playing in the background, usually via an Apple device.  Though I don't remember too much about when I was a little kid, I do remember that I just didn't take naps.  My mom tried and tried to get me to do it, because all little kids do that daily...but it just didn't work.  Even if I got into bed, I didn't sleep.  I was so active that my grandmother used to call me Mister "B", the "B" standing for "busy".

This is just one audio Bible I use!
Even the things that most people would do quietly are not quiet for me.  For example: I bet most of you reading this do--or, at least, used to do--some sort of daily Bible study.  It probably involves reading from the Bible and maybe a devotional book, along with a silent prayer.  That's not my kind of Bible study; when I do it, I use both an audio Bible and one I can read, usually either an app on Jade or Danielle or the Bible Gateway website.  I play the audio Word while I read it, so that way I can get as much out of it as possible.  I used to do just one or the other, and it just didn't work; I wasn't getting what I needed out of it.  If I just read it, I read too fast and missed important details; if I only listened, my mind wandered, and I still missed important details.  Not only that, but all the audio Bibles I use have voice acting, background music, and sound effects worthy of a Hollywood production; if you were to sit in the other room and hear it coming from my speakers, you might think I was watching a movie instead of studying God's Word.  That's pretty much the way it is with everything; if I'm doing something, either I'm making noise, or someone/something else is, because I simply can't deal with the quiet.

Yes, and for far too long!
Unfortunately, I do think that my busyness is a problem, and not because of the way I study the Bible.  A Baptist church across the street from my high school had a message on its marquee sign that said, "Too busy maybe?" and then explained busy as the image to the right does: Being Under Satan's Yoke.  Even though I have a lot of free time, I spend many an hour worrying about this, lamenting over that, or immersed in...well, whatever.  First off, Jesus told us the pointlessness of worrying in Matthew 6:27.  Second off, though lamenting does have its purpose--there's a book of Lamentations in the Bible!--dwelling on a situation does no one any good; what I should do is learn my lesson from it and move on.  When it comes to entertainment, though Christian and even some secular books, movies, music, television and such has its good points, sometimes even that can drown out the voice of God.  An article in Plugged In once said this:

I'm convinced one reason teens aren't hearing from God the way they want to is that He's being drowned out by electronic media. It's not just that the volume is turned up too loud; it's the sheer amount of hi-tech noise consuming adolescents' attention. That includes entertainment that contradicts God's Word. How can we expect to hear His "still, small voice" amid the cacophony of culture? The din has become, like the stone, an obstacle.

Teens will find that there's a price involved in removing it. They'll need to give up some of their precious noise. It could mean turning off the iPod, letting the TV or computer go dark, silencing a video game, or limiting their availability to take cell calls and text messages. It's a sacrifice. But as King David declared in 2 Samuel 24:18-25, the only true sacrifice is one that costs us something.

The Lord is as interested as ever in revealing Himself to young people. In using them. In giving them direction. If your teen wonders why God feels distant, it might be that He's waiting for them to move an obstacle so that He can do something miraculous.

When that article was written, I was a teen, and I saw it, but thought nothing of it.  Now that I'm older and more mature, I realize that the writer of that article was right.

So...what's to be done about quiet time? I'm not exactly sure, but I do know that I need it.  That may be the first step into helping me relax, which is something that I've needed for quite a while.  Any suggestions you may have are welcome.  I do know one thing, though: It's probably going to involve some willpower on my part in order to succeed at actually having quiet time.  However, as Frederick Douglass once said, "Where there is no struggle, there is no progress." It may involve me training myself to read without any background music.  It may require me to keep my thoughts in my head instead of talking out loud to myself whenever I think I am alone.  I don't know what it will take...aside from determination on my part.  Still, whether or not I like it at the moment, I still need it.

Any comments?

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