The din undoes us

Sitting in the prayer room this past weekend, God stepped on my toes.

He sometimes does that when He needs to get our attention.

Step on our toes.

You know, those times when the Spirit is making you uncomfortable. Or bringing a holy conviction. Or when God’s Word riles you, in an uneasy but necessary way.

You try and ignore it, but you just can’t.

Well, I was sitting there, at about half past midnight, enjoying the silence.

A sacred moment of being awake and alone at such a time.

Things were, well…silent.

No cars. No voices. No doors shutting.

Wondering when the last time was that I experienced such silence.

And God spoke to me through Walter Brueggemann.

WB is an American theologian. And in the prayer room there was a book of his prayers.

I picked it up and read one.

It began…

Our lives are occupied territory…

occupied by a cacophony of voices,

and the din undoes us.

These three lines grabbed me…arrested my attention. I couldn’t move on.

Here in the silence I was reading about a cacophony of voices.

And about the din that undoes us.

The din undoes us.

I’m not sure I like the sound of that.

Being undone by noise.

But as I paused to consider, I sensed God’s voice.

Our lives are indeed lived out in the midst of noise. Of din.

People noise. Traffic noise. Music noise. Television noise.

Your phone notifying you of a new message.

Or an incoming email.

Internal noises too.




Replaying conversations.


Noise. Noise. Noise.

Some important.

Other, just mindless.

And, I think, we have come to accept noise as normal.

As necessary.

Maybe even, have come to fear silence.

We have become undone by noise.

And there, in the back room, enjoying silence, with these words of WB lingering, I realised:

How can I hear God in the midst of noise?

How can I hear His voice if the volume of everything else is too loud?

As WB continued…

We are listeners but we do not listen well.

We do not listen well.

Because we always want to speak.

Feel we need to speak.

Not prepared to turn it off.

Feeling that we can’t do anything about the noise.

But I’m not so sure.

I think we can. That the choice is ours.

In Matthew 6:46 we read about Jesus going up on a mountainside to pray.

Reeling from the news of John the Baptist’s execution.

And having just ministered to about 5000 people with loaves and fishes, Jesus sends his disciples on ahead of him, and he goes off by himself to pray.

He withdraws from the noise.

He chooses quiet.

Now, what that looks like for each of us might be different.

Maybe you’re an early-morning person? Or a night-owl?

Maybe you have a favourite armchair? Or a favourite park?

Maybe it’s five minutes right after you’ve put your baby down to nap?

Maybe it’s with noise-cancelling headphones on the train to work?

Whatever. However. We need the silence.

To hear. To listen.

To God.

Through His Word. Through His Spirit.

How can we listen if there’s too much noise?



Simon Lang