It's summer in the South. It's hot, y'all. The South does summer like an Olympic sport - each year trying to outdo the year before with soaring temperatures, 'feels-like' ranges, scorching pavement, and UV indexes. This isn't my first rodeo as a born and bred southern belle. I've done summers in Georgia and South Carolina my entire life. So even though I'm prepared, I'm also quick to find ways to cool off, be it a shaded front porch with a big glass of sweet tea (it's the only way, darlin') or my new favorite, a Jeep ride.
A few years back, we had the opportunity to buy a vintage Jeep. It's a '73 CJ-5. We call her "Kelly." Although she has an after-market top, we rarely have it on since CJs are meant to be driven without them, and it's the perfect way to beat the heat. She's a whole lot of fun, and I'm learning all about inline motors and wiring and little fix-it jobs so I can do my best to keep her running. (I come from a long line of southern gentlemen who did much more than tinker with cars, so I guess I get it honest. I wish my Papa Stanley could see me now.)
A few days ago, on one particularly gorgeous but sweltering summer afternoon, I jumped in the Jeep to cool off disguised by a sudden need to "go run errands." As I was driving, I turned on some of my favorite music. Here's what you need to know about vintage CJs - they are loud. The engine noise coupled with the wind noise naturally means you have to turn up the music ... plus it's more fun that way if you want to car-karaoke (and I do, thank you very much). As I was driving through town, I turned up the music as I was moving and turned it down as slowed towards stop lights so as not to deafen me or my next-lane-over neighbors. After one such stop, when I started driving again, I didn't turn the music back up for whatever reason. The engine was humming, the cars next to me passed with their own music blasting, and the wind roared in my ears. Intermittently through all the noise and ever so faintly in the background, I could hear the song on the album I was listening to, but I couldn't quite make out the words, and I didn't know what part of the song it was on. I wanted to sing along but couldn't hear it well enough to join in. That's when the pause for the day came.
The Lord reminded me that this was similar to his presence and voice. He is always speaking. He is always with me. But very often, my own life drowns it all out, and I can't quite hear it as I should.
It wasn't as if the song had stopped playing... the stereo was still on. It wasn't as if the stereo couldn't be amplified... the volume was simply turned down. I made a choice not to amplify the sound. I allowed my environment to be louder than the song I wanted to hear.
Somewhere over the noise of the engine, wind, southern road, and other passing cars, the Lord spoke to me very quietly and asked me to turn up the awareness of his presence. To be more sensitive to the sound of his voice. To fight for it above the noise of life. When life is loud, that's our cue to turn up our awareness of his presence.
When I have too much of the world blasting in my ears, it's my responsibility to turn it down. When I hear every other sound except the singular voice of my Father, who sings his love over me, it's my job to tune in to his voice and tune out the rest. Remember fellow "Wait-er", It's not a matter of" 'Is He speaking?"... it's a matter of "Are we listening?".
Tune our hearts, God, to your presence. May we be found listening.
"Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire - a still small voice." - 1 Kings 19: 11-12