Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us…For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves (I Peter 2:11-12,15-16).
It was a beautiful evening at the ballpark. The heat of the day was dissipating and the mountains in the distance lived up to their name: Blue Ridge.
The crowd wasn’t very big, perhaps because of the town fair going on in the parking lot. Thus, the sound of ball hitting glove was magnified.
So was that of the two men sitting several rows behind me and my son. One was a heckler, and the other was just a babbler.
Throughout the game, the heckler denigrated the home team. He continually criticized the wisdom of the manager and the talents of the players.
Some of his comments included the following:
“Get him out of there coach. He’s terrible.”
“I hope the team doesn’t sign you to a contract next year.”
“If I were coach, you wouldn’t be playing.”
As I told my son, hecklers like this “gentleman” are just part of the game. If you are a fan, you learn to ignore them.
However, this man made it his task to continue his rants throughout the game. I was just waiting for him to use a profanity or two so I could get an usher to escort him out. No such luck.
This fan’s noise disrupted what was otherwise a fine night. The game was a good one, and as I noted above the ambience was wonderful–except for him. And the babbler.
Unlike the man who felt his ticket money gave him license to release his inner curmudgeon, I got a look at the babbler. He was a jovial looking type with a full, curly black beard. Think pirate.
He was a big man. I wouldn’t have wanted to tell him to be quiet, and I didn’t.
This fellow loudly uttered nonsensical talk throughout each inning. He and the curmudgeon were like a tag team.
Noise is a part of life, I guess. However, as that great unreliable Internet source Wikipedia notes, it is in some contexts an “unwanted phenomenon”.
Noise is disturbing and perturbing. As the Wiki folks say, it can “block, distort, change or interfere” with communication.
What my son and I encountered last night at the ball game was noise pollution. Wikipedia defines that as “excessive, displeasing human, animal or machine-created environmental noise that disrupts the activity or balance of human or animal life”.
I once had a friend who was a Coast Guard officer who was writing a paper on noise, presumably of the maritime variety, and involving ship engines. As a laymen I have seen enough war movies involving submarines, so his paper’s rationale made sense. Think “Run Silent, Run Deep”.
Noise pollution has a negative effect on human health. Here’s Wikipedia’s thoughts on this subject:
Noise health effects are both health and behavioral in nature. The unwanted sound is called noise. This unwanted sound can damage physiological and psychological health. Noise pollution can cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects. Furthermore, stress and hypertension are the leading causes to health problems, whereas tinnitus can lead to forgetfulness, severe depression and at times panic attacks.
It’s no wonder that my sensibilities were negatively affected last night by the disagreeable people sharing the stadium with me. Thanks, guys!!
What is even more disturbing to me is that even at the genetic level, there is noise pollution. Wikipedia indicates that noise in gene activity can make the body resistant to antibiotics and chemotherapy.
All this noise about noise leads me to think of one other kind of noise pollution which can really be harmful. I am referring to the kind of noise that affects the spirit.
For me, this kind of noise is like the audio sound that occurs when there is dead air on a broadcast. It is a low level hissing and humming in my spirit.
I can’t focus on what God is trying to tell me. I am spiritually dizzy and confused, and can’t get my bearings in my soul.
The way to control any noise pollution is to limit it, set barriers against it, and to control it. While these strategies weren’t possible with my ball park buddies last night, they are possible with my spirit.
Sin, for example, opens the door to a rather loud enemy. I am referring to that noisy neighbor, the devil (I Peter 5:8).
Therefore, if I can work at controlling. limiting and setting barriers against my sinful behavior, I will have a more quiet spirit. This will lead to being able to listen to what really matters and is relevant, the voice of God.
When things get crazy in my soul, I have a responsibility to calm myself down and submit to God. The Psalmist wrote:
My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content. (Psalm 131:1,2)
On the other hand, sometimes my circumstances get out of control to such a degree I am totally perplexed. When my lot gets dicey and the surrounding hubbub drowns out my focus on God, it is time to call on Jesus for help.
He can create calm. The Bible tells us he once did that in a stormy situation involving his disciples:
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm (Mark 4:35-39).
He created calm for his disciples of yesteryear and He can do the same today. If we have a reservoir of faith in Jesus when a noise tsunami hits, we will remain at rest in our souls (Mark 4:40).
I have to give credit to my fellow fans at the park yesterday. While the two blabbermouths went on and on, these people remained calm and didn’t say a word to them. They were silent.
Silence is the opposite of noise. Silence was the right antidote to the noise of these fellows.
Despite the ignorant talk of the curmdgeon, who was chastizing a coach and pitcher who were winning their game. the people around them just stayed quiet. They set an example for this man, and kept the annoyance on a peaceful night to a minimum.
The other fans paid for their tickets and had the same rights as the two loudmouths. However, they didn’t let their freedom become a license for bad behavior.
The Jewish “Ethics of the Fathers” says that “a safety fence for wisdom is silence”. In these days when I am facing a need for great wisdom, it is essential that I stay calm in my spirit.
Avoiding sin and trusting Jesus are the ticket!