My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. –Isaiah 32:18 (NIV)
One of the most famous and beloved of all Christmas carols is “Silent Night.”
However, be honest: how often can you describe your life as “Silent,” especially during the Christmas season, when most people’s schedules go into overdrive? Today’s verse from Isaiah shows us that God wants His people to “live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”
Does that describe where you live? If quietness and solitude are essential for growing deep in the spiritual life, then the opposite must be true too. Indeed, one of the quickest ways to be shallow and unspiritual is to surround ourselves with noise and distraction.
In 1942, C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters, an imaginary collection of letters where a senior devil (Screwtape) gives instructions to his pupil (Wormwood) to fight their Enemy (God) and discourage and defeat His followers (Christians). Interestingly, Screwtape describes their satanic kingdom as “a kingdom of noise.”
History professor Jefrey Breshears has written an updated version for the 21st century, where Screwtape is complimenting Wormwood on a job well done and gives him more instructions.
“They have heard of your proposals to the Noise Proliferation Committee (NPC). Indeed, places of solitude and moments of silence grow ever more scarce in the Enemy’s vast and vulgar dominion. Oh, what euphoria to see his insufferable creatures constantly multi-tasking, rushing to fill the dead air with a cacophony of cell phones and muzak, leaf blowers and motorcycles, 24-hour news and ipods – not to mention car stereos cranked up full-blast and serenading the cityscape with the hellish sounds of hip-hop and heavy metal. Those nauseating humans cannot escape their self-made dungeon of din! My pride bubbles like brimstone, Wormwood . . .
“It is down-wrong delicious that you are able to entice your assignments into believing that quiet and solitude are boring and a waste of time. We must be the demon in the whirlwind, invading their private space, cluttering their innermost being with commotion and non-stop entertainment. Remember: our greatest ally is constant and pervasive stimulation.”
So, as we approach Christmas and the start of the new year, what more accurately describes your environment? Silent Night or Noisy Night?
Going deeper: You can read Breshear’s two-page essay here.