Tim Hansel, in his book, When I Relax I Feel Guilty, told a story that relates to the idea of “noise” (see previous post):

 
An American Indian was in downtown New York, walking with his friend, who lived in New York City. Suddenly he said, “I hear a cricket!”
“Oh, you’re crazy,” his friend replied.
“No, I hear a cricket. I do! I’m sure of it.”
“It’s the noon hour. There are people bustling around, cars honking, taxis squealing, noises from the city. I’m sure you can’t hear it.”
“I’m sure I do.”

I spent my two final years of high school in the city of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio. During those years I was pretty fond of Ted Nugent, KISS, and Rush. No, Barry Manilow did not make it on my “playlist” in those days! Ever been to a concert like that? It defines the word LOUD.
 
As I mentioned several posts back, we live in a loud world. The noise that distracts and overwhelms us is not just “noise” that can be measured in decibels. “Noise” comes in many shapes. Sometimes it is visual “noise,” or schedule filling “noise”—but in every case it drowns out what is really important.

The last couple of blog posts have focused on where we can find courage. Without a doubt, how we view our daily circumstances plays a huge role in whether we approach the day with courage or with fear.

 
Of greatest importance in how we each view our circumstances is how we personally view God and ourselves (what we considered in the last two posts).

So—Jesus says, The eye is the lamp of the body…” (Matthew 6:22ff). He says, “If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”

 
What about how we view ourselves? When your mind goes into neutral or when you find yourself under stress, what do you say about yourself under your breath? Do you say, “I’m such a loser!” or “I’m so stupid.” or “I’ll never amount to anything.”

In past posts I’ve mentioned Matthew 6 where Jesus speaks strongly about how important it is to “see” and how devastating it is when we don’t see clearly. “The eye is the lamp of the body…” (Matthew 6:22ff).

Without a doubt, if our “eyesight” is “poor” and our view of God is distorted, it impacts everything!

The landscape of the Body of Christ is littered with examples of the consequences of fear. In some cases, fear can cause us to fight with those closest to us—whether our family members, friends, our spouse, or others in the Body of Christ. We can fear people with different opinions or who do things differently than we do. We fear those with different backgrounds or perspectives. In some cases we fight and other times we just run away from our fears.

Recently I sat with an older mentor friend and his wife. He was going through a very scary health issue. He and his wife are people of deep faith and courage and, at the same time, they were scared and the possibility of a very different future was staring them in the face.

In the Gospel of Mark, we see a situation where Jesus reveals how often fear reveals a lack of faith in our lives. In the early days of His ministry, Jesus took His disciples on a field trip across the Sea of Galilee. In the midst of their journey, a great squall came up that nearly swamped the boat. The disciples, some of whom were seasoned fishermen, were terrified and cried out to Jesus—who was sound asleep in the storm!

When Jesus was still a newborn, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple to present Him to the Lord and to make a sacrifice. While they were there, they met two very interesting people: Simeon and Anna. To me, what makes these two so interesting is their willingness to listen to what God told them and to obey—even though it was very uncomfortable to do so.

In our last post, we learned how Mary, Jesus’ mother, had good ears, was ready to hear, and receive what God had to say. You might say, “Well, it’s pretty easy to hear God, listen, and receive what He has to say if an angel shows up and delivers the message!” That may make sense, but we have a pretty profound example of the opposite in the Christmas story.