"Don't Listen to the Noise"
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
"Don't listen to the noise," the Greenville News headline said. Who's talking? Clemson Football Assistant Coach Brent Venable. Who's he talking to? The fall 2018 Clemson Football Team.
What's the noise they're not to listen to? In a list of the top 100 college football players in 2018, Sports Illustrated named nine Tiger players. No other college matched that number. Pretty heady stuff, huh? Why wouldn't those young men feel really confident when they line up on the field for the kick-off? And how would that "noise" affect their playing? Might they be too comfortable, too enamored by their achievements that they would not play well? Coach Venable warns, "Don't listen to the noise."
Our Head Coach says, "Don't listen to the noise." Who's talking? The Lord God, our Creator and gracious Savior. Who's He talking to? You and me.
What's the noise we're not to listen to?
Some of the noise comes from the people around us, and not all of it will be up-lifting or encouraging. Some people would enjoy seeing us fail. So they tell us, in insidious, sneaky ways, that we aren't capable of doing what God has told us He wants us to do.
Some of the noise comes from our loving friends. They want us to succeed, but they discourage us instead of helping us.
We also have an "enemy of our souls." He lies to us. Satan tempts us with the glitter of the good life. We need to resolutely turn from his deceitful noise.
But some of the noise comes from our own heads. We remember past failures. We see our insufficiencies. We're weakened by our doubts, our fears.
What is the only answer?
When the Prophet Elijah ran away from wicked Queen Jezebel, who'd threatened to kill him, he cowered in a cave on Mount Sinai. You may remember the story. (It's found in First Kings chapter nineteen.) The Bible says that God sent a whirlwind, then an earthquake, and then a fire. But God was not in any of those noisy, frightening events. "And after the fire, a still small voice," says verse twelve. God spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice.
We must tune out the noise the world makes so that we are able to hear God's still, small voice. In His love and mercy, He will guide us. He speaks through a parent, a supervisor, or perhaps just His Word, the Bible. But we can know, in spite of all the dizzying noises around us, just exactly what He wants us to do.
How gracious God will be when you cry for help!
As soon as He hears, He will answer you.
Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity
and the water of affliction,
Your teachers will be hidden no more;
with your own eyes you will see them.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
"This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:19-21