Monday, March 23, 2009

Stilling the static

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. – James 4:8 (NKJV)

When baseball season comes around, I’ll be tuning in to my Pirates once again. OK, so they’re the cellar dwellers of the league, but they’re my team, and there’s nooooooo doubt about me rooting for them no matter what.

So, in preparation for Opening Day, one of the items on my husband’s “honey do” list is to fix the antenna on my radio. Last season, when a game was broadcast, the radio went with me everywhere—my study while I wrote, the kitchen while I made supper, the redneck porch while I crocheted in the evening until it got too dark to see. The lateness of the West Coast games wasn’t a problem. All I did was plug in my headphones and take the radio to bed with me.

But I often had trouble with the reception. For two reasons: our location and the strength of the signal, and a broken, jury-rigged antenna. (We Hueys, remember, don’t replace broken things if there’s a chance we can fix them.)

When the antenna wasn’t pointed exactly in the right direction, static drowned out the play-by-play. So I’d have to stop what I was doing and fiddle with the thing, which was loose and casually resting in its place, until the announcer’s voice came in loud and clear.

Sometimes the problem was simply that we were too far from the sending signal. That happened more when we were traveling and moving farther from the broadcasting station. I’d push the “seek” button until I found a station carrying the game, which worked until we drove out of range again.

Static can be a problem in my spiritual life, too. I just can’t hear what God is telling me because there’s too much noise drowning out His voice.

Sometimes the static is physical noise—someone talking, a radio or TV blaring, music playing (especially certain kinds of music), and plain, old, everyday noise.

Sometimes the static is different points of view and opinions. One guy says this; another guy says that. Differing opinions on the church, end times, the Holy Spirit, the meaning of certain passages of Scripture, holiness, healing, tithing, prayer, worship—even music during worship service—can get so loud I can’t hear what God has to say. Everyone seems to be speaking for Him these days.

That’s when I need to get closer to the Sending Signal, shutting out the world and shutting myself in with God.

There are other sending signals, too, though, some which send messages contrary to God’s. Pushing the “seek” button to get the signal that’s loudest doesn’t mean I’m getting the right message. So I study God’s Word, talk to Him in prayer, then wait for His answer.

Sometimes, though, the signal is strong but my antenna’s broken, jarred loose from the jostling and pounding of life. I’ve gotten too busy or am too tired to take time for prayer and Bible reading. Or I’ve unconfessed sin—a judgmental, self-righteous attitude, an unforgiving spirit, envy, pride, anger, doubt, indifference, ungratefulness—the list goes on. So easy to slip into and wallow without even realizing it. Until the static reminds me it’s time to adjust the antenna, put it in its rightful place and tighten it.

Getting closer to the Signal and staying in range, wrote James, is a matter of submitting to God, resisting the devil, washing our hands (deeds), purifying our hearts (attitudes), grieving for sin, and humbling ourselves.

Then He will lift us up and draw us near—closer to the heart of the Signal. And there’s nooooooooo doubt about that!

Dear God, sometimes I let the static get too loud before I do anything about it. Remind me to stay close to You and to adjust my antenna frequently so that it’s Your voice I hear, loud and clear. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read James 4:7-10

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