Wandering in the wilderness is nothing new for most of us. We’ve all experienced seasons of deep pain when we were forced to roam the dry desert, when we found ourselves weary and thirsty, and nothing would satisfy.

We’ve been here before, so those vast stretches of emptiness are nothing new. We’ve felt the blistering heat of the sun, and the frigid chill of darkness in the wilderness before. But the thing that always surprises us is the sound the wilderness makes, the deafening sound of silence.

The past two days have been particularly quiet for me as I fast from multitasking. In trying to be present in one thing at a time, I’ve decided to eliminate as much background distraction as possible. So that means there is no television talking as I make dinner, no iPod singing as I run on the treadmill. The car radio is silent as I drive around the city, and my clock radio does nothing but glow as I head to bed. 

But the quiet all around me only gives way to the voices and distractions and noise in my head that I try so hard to tune out most of the time. The lies of despair I tell myself about my future and my hope, the criticisms I conjure toward anyone who doesn’t do things my way, and the temptations I dangle for myself to be lazy, indulgent, and selfish all become louder as the other noise subsides.

And in the “silence” of the wilderness I can finally do the work of responding to the noise inside. I can let Jesus speak truth to the lies and criticisms and temptations. And I can find an inner quiet to carry with me when my time in the wilderness has ended and the world around me becomes noisy again.