Devotion in Motion: Dissecting the Desiderata; Part 1

10 Be still, and know that I am God;

      I will be exalted among the nations,

      I will be exalted in the earth!  Psalm 46:10  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Editor’s note: This column follows last week’s post about the Desiderata (Latin for “the things to be desired.”) The following two lines are taken from this beautiful poem.

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
   and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

When last hurrah of Hurricane Katrina hit our house back in 2005, we were left without electricity for 3 weeks and without running water for 2 weeks. We ate a lot of picnic food, took sponge-baths with pans of water, and for entertainment played Scrabble by lamplight. I remember those 21 days as being very peaceful — and very quiet.

Reading a bit of history, I had a realization. For Abraham Lincoln (and all those other folks in the history books), each and every day had no electric lights and running water.  And it made me realize that “Honest Abe’s” brain was surely a lot quieter than my brain. He had no television, radio, iPod, iPad, laptop, CD player, or cell phone to disrupt his thoughts. He was an avid reader, but books were scarce back then. Have you ever noticed how quiet everything is when the power goes out? For President Lincoln, that kind of silence was “standard operating procedure.”

The truth is, we are probably hit with more media in a week than President Lincoln experienced in his entire lifetime. We’re bombarded with nonstop sound and fury every day. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Never-ending information is a new development in the history of mankind. And I’m not sure we were designed to handle this overload of constant mental stimulation.

Something I’ve discovered is that too much “talk”— be it from television, radio, or the Internet — absolutely wears me out. I’m a person who doesn’t like conflict or confrontation. Have you noticed how many programs consist of people discussing problems or arguing with one another?

I’ve found that I feel a lot better if sometimes I take a break from the media. God has promised to give me enough strength to deal with my problems. But there’s no profit in wearing myself down by listening to disagreements that really aren’t my business.

Something else I’ve found is that when I’m really stressed, I can help myself by listening to music — specifically music without words. (I learned the power of wordless music from a friend who has now gone to be with the Lord.) Instrumentals provide better stress relief than vocals probably because they free up the part of the brain involved in verbal reasoning and problem solving.

When I’m having a rough day, I listen to instrumentals. I’m not just talking about “elevator music.” Depending on your mood, you could listen to hymns, show tunes, symphonies, easy listening, the Pops, real jazz, or a dozen other options. Try it out and see how it works for you.

Better yet, when things are hectic, try to find a few minutes of silence. As today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) teaches us, “Be still and know that He is God.” Unplug or power down all the electronics. Spend time with the Lord. And then listen to the peace and quiet.

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where Southern Pine Electric used to go off every time it thundered.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).