When someone has had a stroke or trauma to their nervous system, words that were once their daily tools become lost. They become jumbled into wrong sequences like letters just thrown on a Scrabble board. It takes rest and therapy to bring them back. The same kind of shock has occurred to us in the media-saturated culture we live in. Our world is filled with words – Words that come from people talking, words that come from songs, and video games, TVs, Smart Phones, Utube, Facebook etc . . . We have been taught to relate to devices more than people. This mass-communication, like dust clouds, fill the atmosphere of the world causing trauma to our spiritual heart. Through all the micro-processed chatter, have we been robbed of the ability to relate to one another face to face, and also to God?
This has worked very much like a booster shot that “enhances your immunity to a sickness by exposing you to small doses of that sickness. “Idea inoculation” seems to work the same way: Expose someone to a weakened version of something controversial through an ocean of chatter, and it desensitizes them when you hear the full version.
The over-saturation of words in media has taught us to tune out in order to keep from drowning in the arguments, debates, and sales pitches. As Jacques Ellul puts it, “Abundance of words has polluted the purpose of words”. He echoes something Solomon knew long ago.
“When words are many, sin is not absent”
Proverbs 10:19 (NIV)
As the famous Simon and Garfunkel song says, “And in the naked light I saw, Ten thousand people, maybe more, People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening,” Sounds of Silence.
When people hear the gospel it becomes just another channel vying for their attention. And they can barely hear it. Solomon lamented that: “Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks” Proverbs 1:20–21 (NRSV)
One of satan’s strategies is for you to either speak too much or listen to too many words – killing words, hopeless words, destructive words, critical words, idle words.
He wants you to hear words that inoculate you against being sensitive to the voice of God. He wants your words to lose creative and communicative power. Words can create atmosphere, encourage a heart, or even speak life into a situation. Words are important because as Abraham Heschel says, “We stand for what we utter”.
So how do you get your words back? How do you stop being desensitized by images or too many words? How do you sensitize yourself to the voice of God? You must UNPLUG. You must make yourself quiet. This is the opposite of today’s culture, yet this is what kept the mystics and desert fathers hearing God’s voice. God spoke to Elijah in a “still small voice”.
“Be still (Quiet) before the Lord and wait patiently for him;”
Psalm 37:7 (NIV)
Silence resets you. Silence, not noise, is the key to hearing God’s voice. The most powerful quickening words come out of silence. Jesus always unplugged and snuck away to the mountains to listen to God’s voice. We suffer because our lives are filled with noise.
We hear so much about “declaring the word”, but sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is be quiet. I don’t know about you, but I want my words back.
“Be still, and know that I am God!”
Psalm 46:10 (NRSV)