My house is…well. Noisy.
Most of the time, I think like that this place gurgles with life. Someday, I think, I will be sad when my house is silent more often than it is loud.
But the current season is saturated with boy sound-effects of all varieties and odors; um, arguing; constant requests (I count an average three “Mom!” calls whenever I attempt to use the bathroom); and the din of my generally rowdy offspring. Quiet can be a hard-earned commodity.
Yet even in the morning—when all that floods into my bedroom is African birdsong and gravel crunching out my window as someone heads to work—I then have my noisy mind to deal with.
I’ve written before that author Pete Scazzero recommends “centering” as we begin time with God:
We move into God’s presence and rest there. That alone is no small feat. For this reason I often spend five minutes centering down so I can let go of my tensions, distractions, and sensations and begin resting in the love of God.*
Even more lately, I’ve found so much life in this three-word command of Jesus:
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)
Because if you think my kids are hard to get quiet? You should see my heart.
A closed door muffles. It conceals from the outside world. It presents me before an audience of One. It helps me listen to a Voice still and small—but paradoxically, the only One that matters.
Too often, the door of my soul is banging open.
Rather than turning the lock, it’s welcoming in the outside world and its demands and opinions and clamor. Rather kneeling in a closet, it’s bowing on a stage for someone. Rather than tuning in to the Word that is from the beginning, it opts for the opinions of earthlings who’ve walked a handful of decades on the planet. Rather than looking up, it’s looking around.
I sense my heart’s unwitting open-door policy in my perpetual people-pleasing across the spectrum, from family to strangers in cyberspace. (Loving, as much as I hate to admit it, is quite different from people-pleasing.) The words of Peter—slicing through the ardent voices of the Jewish leaders in Acts—help shove the mob in my head out the door: We must obey God rather than men.
I sense my heart’s wide-open door in my own elaborate, footnoted-and-annotated checklist of expectations and endless to-do’s that keep me from listening and choosing to act for One person only. If worship is a lifestyle, if prayer is continual—I need to be shutting the door a lot. More. Often.
I feel it when I’m evaluating whether my life is worth something; when I’m discouraged and confused. When I’m clawing around for achievements or purpose or affirmation. As Paul David Tripp writes, “I am still tempted to assess the ‘good’ of a day by whether it pleased me versus whether I pleased God and was loving toward others.”**
Shut the door.
It’s noise, you know. Sometimes it’s just hard to close the door on the noise. And as much as my house has pretty much an open-door policy…more and more, I think my heart should have the opposite.
And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
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*Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ. Kindle Edition.
**Tripp, Paul David. New Morning Mercies: A Gospel Devotional.