Have you ever stopped to listen and ponder just how noisy our world is? From the time our alarm clocks obnoxiously awaken us, we are inundated with noise. Conversations, vehicle noise, music with volume pumped up over the noise of the car, machines at work, screens everywhere spitting images caked with sounds at our faces. Our world is noisy.
Imagine no cell phones, computers, televisions, vehicles, machines, CD players, tape decks, or 8-tracks. Take all of that noise out of our world and you get closer to the world in which Jesus lived. Pretty quiet, eh? Even though the Son of God lived a world much quieter than our own, he still “often withdrew to lonely places to pray” (Luke 5:16). If Jesus thought he needed to do this, what makes you think you can afford not to?
I don’t think I’m merely reflecting my introverted personality when I say it’s important for you to get alone in a quiet place to pray and reflect on God’s Word. Your soul needs a break from the constant bombardment it takes from a noisy world. It wasn’t made to thrive through relentless stimuli.
I remember distinctly one night some time ago, after our kids were soundly asleep, my wife and I spent 30 minutes individually reading and reflecting on God’s Word. It was sweet. It was refreshing. It was needed. Yes, there were a hundred other things that probably needed our attention: laundry, dirty dishes, something broken I don’t have a clue how to fix, but doing those things would not have refreshed our souls.
So my plea to you is this: fight for solitude! Escape to solitary places where your mind and soul can experience the healing of reflecting on God’s Word in quiet. It’s absolutely necessary if you are going to remain spiritually sane in a noisy world.
The book of Ecclesiastes is occupied with the question: is there a thing in the universe that can satisfy the human heart? Up to this point, the professor has tried things like pleasure, laughter, advancement, and education, but has declared these things to fall short of providing the good life.
In chapter 5, he turns to church, but shows us it's possible to make church every bit as meaningless as the above mentioned. How? By approaching church thoughtlessly, treating "it" inconsiderately, and participating selfishly.
When we approach church as a place for people to perform in such a way so we get our preferences and desires satisfied, we have turned it into a brothel. This is why the professor is so strongly adamant that when we come to the "house of God" we come first to listen not speak. Listen first. No requests made. No preferences articulated. So let's let our words be few and just listen.
So what do I do with my kids for family devotions or one on one discipleship of them? (Please note: if your children are grown, keep reading). I’ve had that question a fair amount and my answer is simple and the same every time: buy and read Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. I’ve read five or six children’s Bibles to my kids and Jones’ is by far the best for two reasons: 1. Her writing is style is smooth and colorful. 2. Every Bible story she “translates” points to Christ.
A mom once asked me how to get kids excited about the Bible because most of them are bored with it. I get that, I really do. Except for the occasional camp or conference experience, I was bored with the Bible until college. So on the one hand, temper your expectations. They aren’t going to be Greek and Hebrew ninjas by the age of 10. But I also said, make sure when they are learning the stories of the Bible, somebody is showing them how those stories point forward to Christ and the gospel. That’s what’s so good about The Jesus Storybook Bible. Jones understands Jesus himself said all Scripture points to him.
You might be thinking: “My days raising little kids are done. What should I read?” Um...The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally-Lloyd Jones. I’ve recommended to numerous adults that they read this book. It will do more to help you see how the whole Bible hangs together than any other resource I know of.