It always amazes me how God shows up at the perfect time and in the perfect way. The thing about it, though, is a lot of times it’s so subtle that you can miss it if you aren’t paying attention.
The other day I was having dinner with someone at Texas Roadhouse. For those who aren’t familiar with this restaurant, trust me when I say it’s so loud that having a conversation with someone across the table is a feat in itself. Every time I go there, it’s so crowded that even the large waiting area is overflowing to the outside of the restaurant. Country music is blaring, and there are big TVs in the bar area usually showing sports. Each table is full of people who are trying to talk over the mixture of music and the other people chatting at surrounding tables. Servers are talking over all of the noise as they try to get each person’s order, and every so often you hear someone yell, “Attention Texas Roadhouse. This is Sally and it’s her birthday, so everyone give her a loud YEE HAW!” Then the majority of the restaurant yells YEE HAW while Sally sits on a horse’s saddle, twirling her napkin above her head like a lasso (yes I’ve done this so many times I have it memorized).
Needless to say, it makes for an interesting and very noisy dining experience.
A little while into eating our salads, a song came on, and it was a song that was one of my favorites back in high school. It is a song filled with memories for both of us.
I stopped as soon as I heard the first few notes but wasn’t completely sure it was the song I first thought it was. I had to listen more and hear the words when they began. I smiled and made a comment about it playing at that moment.
The more I listened, though, I wasn’t certain it was Deana Carter’s voice singing Strawberry Wine. I asked my friend if it was someone else singing, so we both put our forks down and strained our ears to hear it better over the din.
We had to pull out the sound of the singer’s voice while somehow muting the surrounding noise. When we did that, we could quickly tell that it was, in fact, Deana Carter singing that old favorite of ours.
I made the comment, “It’s weird that it sounded like someone else just because it was mixed in with all the noise.”
That A-ha Moment
You know that moment where it truly does feel like a light bulb goes off in your head? That moment where things are just perfectly pieced together—Kind of like when you place that final puzzle piece down and see the full picture? Well, the comment I made was exactly that for me. Everything just fell into place, but I could have easily missed what God was doing with that entire situation.
You see, before we even went into the restaurant, my friend and I were having an important conversation about life and struggles that we both have been going through and how different we’ve responded to them.
My friend talks about the struggle to lots of people. What began as talking to others in order to possibly have guidance has turned into gossip and destruction. After talking often to so many different people, the struggle expanded into something bigger than it was to begin with. So many different voices have been speaking to this friend.
I, on the other hand, tend to keep to myself any time I struggle. There’s a mixture of reasons why: pride, fear of judgment, not wanting to dwell on a situation, and as I was telling my friend, it brings in too much noise. Throughout this entire struggle, I’ve told very little details to very few friends. Again, there are several different reasons behind me keeping private, but just before walking into the restaurant, we talked about this. Before even getting out of the car, I said that I felt from the beginning of my struggle that adding so many different people to the mix also would mean adding a lot of “advice” or “wise counsel.” Specifically, I said, “It causes too much noise, and I am afraid I’ll hear all those other voices and not know which one is God’s.”
Hmmmmm . . . Isn’t that pretty much what happened once we got into the restaurant? Isn’t that very similar to what I said when I was trying to hear that song? I had no intention of the two correlating, but as soon as I made that statement about the noise making it difficult to tell if it was Deana Carter’s voice or someone else’s it hit me like a lightning bolt in front of my face.
That wasn’t coincidence. That was God. Just like me at the restaurant, you may hear God’s voice in your struggles and during tough decisions, however, the more people you talk to for “advice” on what to do, the more noise will be surrounding you. You’ll start to hear their voices not only as they’re talking to you, but you’ll start to hear those voices in your thoughts. That’s when you begin to feel confused and overwhelmed with making the right or wrong decisions. It makes it more difficult to distinguish between people’s voices and God’s. The sounds start blending together, and you have to strain to recognize God’s voice. With each new person, God’s voice becomes quieter because the other voices are all talking over one another – some saying the same thing and some different.
Peel the Layers
Maybe you already have a lot of noise in your difficult situation. Peel back the noise layers. You can focus on God’s voice by tuning out any background noise; stop talking about it to others. If someone you’ve already talked to asks, don’t fall into the trap of talking about it. Politely tell them you don’t want to talk about it. If I could have silenced the happy birthday yelling, the other customers, the servers, and turned the TVs off, it would almost feel as if I turned the volume up on the music. It would have been the only thing my ears could hear, and I would have never questioned which song I was hearing or who was singing it.
Hear me when I say God has given you people to go to for advice and help. However, use those outlets wisely. It’s not necessary to take everything requiring a decision to those people. You need to rely on God. You need to learn to trust his voice, and you need to continue growing in him so you can easily recognize his voice. Seek wise counsel as needed, but too often I think we go to others primarily to get the response we want to hear. After a while we begin to depend on their words more than God’s. But what happens when all the noise layers are eliminated?
Take a look again at the picture above. Can you mentally peel back the layers of noise? With each layer taken away, it should get easier to see what is underneath all the noise. If you still have trouble, click HERE and see what’s been there all along. I bet you didn’t notice it at first glance.