I travel a good bit these days, and spend a decent amount of time on airplanes. Over the years, people have become more and more comfortable listening to anything and everything to block out the noise of the airplane, announcements being made, or crying babies. Companies (BOSE, Beats, etc) have become better at creating headphones that can block out all noise around you so you only hear what you decide to listen to. And this doesn’t just apply to airplanes. People use these to focus at work or simply walk around outside.
People spend a lot of money on these headphones to accomplish one simple goal: block out distractions and noise. We want to have control over what we listen to or don’t listen to.
The Downside to Noise Cancelling
Airplanes: If you can’t hear anything that means you cant hear any important announcements (safety, or emergency notifications).
Jogging/Running: If you are completely blocked out from noise, a car could honk its horn at you, or someone could try and warn you about something around you, and you may not hear the warning signals.
Sometimes we decide that we know better than God does about what we should be listening to. God gives us warning signs or direction through many different mediums throughout our lives. If we don’t allow God to speak to us through a specific channel we are only hurting ourselves. Using an extreme example, if you decide to block yourself off from anyone who isn’t a Christian in an effort to protect yourself and not be tempted, you are not abiding by God’s greatest commandment to “Go out and made disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20) While we have protected ourselves from the “noise” around us, we have limited God’s ability to work through us.
Related Post: God is Calling Us All to Listen
I would encourage you to ask God to speak to you. Start to listen to His voice everywhere you go. God can speak through anyone or anything. Don’t block Him out.
The Positive About Noise Cancelling
With that said, there are times that silence is important and being able to cancel out distractions can be helpful.
Basketball Players: If you’ve ever watched a Duke basketball home game, the fans do everything in their power to distract the other team and make them mess up or miss a shot. Players on the floor have to find a way to block it out and perform to help their team.
Football Huddles: Or think about a football team in a huddle. The purpose of the huddle is to block out noise and allow everyone to understand the next play’s plan.
Airplanes: Sticking with this analogy from before, think about the pilots of the airplane. They can’t be distracted by the passengers. Their job with all the noise going on around them is to get everyone to the destination safely. They actually wear headphones to talk with each other and block out the actual noise around them.
Christianity is similar in that there are times you need to clearly hear God’s voice and not be distracted by the enemy who is doing everything in his power to knock you off track. I grew up with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) so I understood at a young age how the smallest of distractions could affect me. I had to learn how to block them out.
When I want to hear from God, I need silence or an environment where God is welcome (worship, church, etc). God doesn’t need complete silence to be able to speak to you, but sometimes you need complete silence to listen.
In those times, cancelling out your surrounding is a good idea. After getting alone away from distractions, though, we should come back to full awareness of our surroundings so we can see and hear God move. Ultimately, it’s about doing what’s needed to be able to hear from God. We block out the distractions but lean in to listen to Him however, whenever, and wherever He chooses to speak to us.
So noise cancelling can be both good and bad. In the end, don’t block out God or limit His ability to use you or speak to you by attempting to block out others.