Growing up in a family of four girls it was one of my father's favorite things to say. Today it has an entirely different spiritual meaning to me.
Cacophony: A disturbing group of noises that are meaningless, discordant, harsh and disturbing.
Big word. Simple meaning. As my daddy would say it's just racket.
Have you ever been in the audience when an orchestra began to warm up their instruments before the performance? Each one playing scales - tuning up - practicing a part - warming up their embouchure or mouth muscles in order to prepare to play the instrument. Yes, every instrument is important but each one is playing as if they are the only one in the room. Together? Nothing works. It's loud, obnoxious and overwhelming. Auditory confusion. Auditory cacophony. Racket.
But....when the conductor walks on stage and without a word being spoken lifts his/her hands and makes eye contact with the orchestra --the noise stops and the confusion begins to make sense. The horrific auditory overload becomes quiet. The noise now becomes something that we understand, our spirit is at peace, our mind calms and something beautiful comes out of the confusion.
Sensory overload. It happens. Have you ever said "Turn down the radio because I can't see!" Well, it's not such a silly statement. There are actual scientific studies that show too much sound/noise can induce a suppressive effect on both visual perception and the ability to see clearly. God has designed our brain as an amazing computer-like organ. Every second of the day the human body sends 11 million bits of sensory information to the brain for processing, but the brain is only able to process 50 million bits per second. With the use of compression, memory and a delayed reflex system it works well but it is a delicate system that can be easily overloaded.
This sensory assault occurs every single day. I open up my computer to social media in order to catch up on the lives of those I care about and all I get is noise. I turn on the tv and all I get is noise - I go out in the world to shop or work and get noise. Visual and auditory noise that fills my mind - meaningless discord that is inharmonious and counterintuitive to my peace. It attempts to rob me of my focus, my ability to think clearly, and my ability to hear God.
It overloads my system and brings on emotions that are contrary to God's plan. It brings fear, anxiety, depression and hopelessness. We now live in a world where both auditory and visual cacophony have embedded themselves into our minds and is causing a paralysis that affects our ability to function. It causes a shutdown and in that shutdown breeds apathy and a survival mentality, which is in contrast to God's plan.
Covid. Riots. Hatred. Politics. And Change. Changes in what I know, what I'm used to, what I grew up with. Changes to the way we school our children, doctor our sick, even do our shopping. Too much time alone. Too much division and confusion. Everything is now done in a virtual format and we carry a mask in our back pockets to put on in public so we do not breath the same air as others do. No longer are we greeting each other with a handshake or a hug and physical touch is feared.
Satan's tactic? To drown out God's voice by the noise.
But...bring in the conductor.
Jesus. He experienced this same overload. He was bombarded by crowds - thousands of people all clamoring for His attention and His help. He was bombarded by the thoughts that plagued Him - of His upcoming torture and death. And He was bombarded by the sin that sat on His shoulders - the weight of the sin that was not His own.
But in the overload He modeled for us what to do when the noise overtakes us.
Look at Mark 6:30-31
Context: John the Baptist had just been beheaded by King Herod and the disciples of John had just buried him in a tomb. Matthew Henry states that the disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus had all come to Jesus telling Him of the events. They were exhausted and their world was rocked. Jesus recognized their overload.
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
It was hectic. Crazy things had happened. John the Baptist - a man who was sent by God to proclaim of the coming Messiah was imprisoned and beheaded (on the whim of the daughter of Herodias). The disciples were tired, physically and emotionally exhausted. The disciples of John had their world rocked and nothing would be the same. They were overwhelmed and Jesus recognized the need for peace.
His model for us when the noise gets to be too much? There were four things that He said to do:
Come with me.
By yourselves (alone).
To a quiet place.
Get some rest.
Four things. His model quieted their overload. It would bring control to the chaos. And it would prepare them for things to come.
But did they stay there in the boat and hide from the world? No. The rest was to regain focus for the ministry they were about to do in their chaotic world. The crowds would come again - in fact 5000+ (verse 34). It was rest for a season. In other words....rest, calm the noise, regroup and refocus then get up and put your 'granny-pannies' on because we have work to do.
The role of the conductor? It only takes a look. It only takes eye contact from the Master of the chaos and a lifting of His hand to calm the clamor, to bring a renewed sense of strength and to bring peace. Things aren't going back to the way they were but in the new world in which we live, God has a plan. Something beautiful can come out of the noise.
So I urge you to just turn off the noise. Get alone in the quiet - if just for 5 minutes a day - to regroup, refocus and listen for God's voice. Hide in the bathroom, go sit in your car, take a walk by yourself, pull weeds from the garden - anything to quiet the noise and get alone with the one in charge. Get alone so that He can make eye contact with you. He may not tell you something life shattering but He will calm the storm that is raging in your mind. Tell Him that you are listening if He wants to speak. He has His hands lifted and ready.
My prayer today: Father God, we come to you out of chaos. But ....you already know that. Out world feels crazy - loud, confused, scary and sad. Sometimes it feels that the noise crowds out your still small voice. We know that it is a ploy of the evil one to cloud our minds with confusion and chaos. Help us to follow the model that Jesus set - to come away by ourselves in the quiet and rest in You. You alone can calm the madness. You will give us rest and will put us back on our feet to face tomorrow with renewed strength. You don't want us to hide - but to get away for a refocus. Turn off the racket and speak to us. We are listening. We adore you.