A desperate executive sought the counsel of an old guru who lived in a mountain cave. The executive was living a hurried life and was frustrated. The holy man listened to his guest, then retreated deep into his cave, returning shortly with a basin.
He scooped water from the muddy little stream passing by the mouth of the cave and offered it to the executive to drink. The executive rejected it, even though he was very thirsty from his journey. The water was too dirty.
After a while he offered the water again, but this time, all the silt had settled to the bottom of the basin and the water was pristine. The man drank it. The wise man then asked, “What did you do to make the water clean?” Answer: “I didn’t do anything.”
“Exactly!” said the monk. “Your life is troubled; it is disturbed and muddy because you are always allowing the water to become agitated. Only when it is calm will you have peace. Be still and let the water settle.”
I don’t have to convince you that this world is a noisy place. Talking heads, viewpoint shows, 24-hour news, analysis on every hand, opinions like armpits. Court is always being held, comments are always being made, and there is a constant eagerness to share the oh-so-correct perspective. There’s always someone bloviating about something, and the pandemonium is so saturating it seeps into our souls.
Jesus, once instructing his disciples, called the noise “babble.” It is foolish rambling, tedious chattering, words that continue to stack up, but never really mean anything. You have to get away from it. It will be good for you—not to mention how everyone else will appreciate it as well.
I have a friend who noted recently that the words “listen” and “silent” are spelled with exactly the same letters (I had never noticed this) and he thinks they mean the same thing. I could not agree more. Stillness is the quickest way to hear God and find true peace.
Learn to turn down the noise. Learn to cultivate some distance from this clamorous world, because distance is a good thing when it comes to things and people who are harmful. Learn to keep the raucous environment that is contemporary society at arm and ear’s length, and you might begin to let the water of your own soul peacefully settle.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at ronniemcbrayer.net