In 1981, the late Henri Nouwen wrote these words in his book, Way of the Heart (pages 37 – 38):
“Over the last few decades we have been inundated by a torrent of words. Wherever we go we are surrounded by words: words softly whispered, loudly proclaimed, or angrily screamed; words spoken, recited or sung; words on records, in books, on walls, or in the sky; words in many sounds, many colors, or many forms; words to be heard, read, seen, or glanced at; words which flicker off and on, move slowly, dance, jump, or wiggle. Words, words, words! They form the floor of the walls, and the ceiling of our existence. It has not always been this way. There was a time not too long ago without radios and televisions, stop signs, yield signs, merge signs, bumper stickers, and the ever present announcements indicating price increases or special sales. There was a time without the advertisements which now cover whole cities with words.”
It is true. We live in a world full of words. Words quickly subduing every crevasse of our lives. This oversaturation of words creates a reality that words begin to lose their meaning and we suddenly lose discernment of what is valuable. This quote was written nearly forty years ago, before the advent of the internet. Today, our computers, phones, tablets, and TVs offer us more distractions than ever before.
In light of such a reality, I must pose this question. Why would anyone choose to read these words? Do we truly need more words? No. We don’t.
Modern society is infused with meaningless communication that removes the depth of gravity and importance. Our minds are trashed with innumerable ideas, opinions, and perspectives – all of which are fighting for our uninterrupted focus and attention. They are vying for our time, energy, belief, and response.
The crisis we face today is not that we don’t have good options to choose to invest our time and energy. We have plenty. The challenge today is that we have too many good options and too little discernment to help us choose, and focus on the best option.
My prayer is that these words would draw you into a deep silence, that would cause you to think about why you were created, and how to live out your purpose. I pray that these words would captivate you to flee from the normalcies of our culture and provoke you to remove the numerous distractions keeping you from living the life you were created to live.
Today marks a new decade. January 1, 2020. The perfect time to fixate on what truly matters, both today, and also many decades from now. We challenge you to start this new decade with intentional time in silence. Remove all of your distractions and interruptions, and focus on choosing God’s best for your life.
Blessings to you and yours on a phenomenal 2020!