It’s a foggy morning at the beach, making it a bit difficult to see some of the finer features of the Seattle skyline. If you were to drive along the beach here this morning you would not be all that impressed by the images that you were seeing. You wonder about those picture postcard views and impressive claims of snow capped mountains and the space needle and all that. You’d begin to buy into all the claims of rain and gloom and images of umbrellas and fleece. Well ok …. The part about the fleece is actually true. I think it was invented here.
My point is that there is another view here,
sometimes obscured by clouds or dampened by rain, but it’s not the cloudiest, rainiest place in the country. I moved from that place 10 years ago. However, some voices would tell you otherwise. I thought about this morning as I was parking along the fog bank. I thought about how our opinions and attitudes on things, many of them we may never have experienced ourselves, can be shaped by a variety of voices. In my nearly 20 years of pastoral artistry I have encountered a number of people who hear voices. These voices are so strong and damaging that they need medication to quiet the voices. These voices communicate a reality that is not real at all. Sometimes even medication doesn’t work to quiet them and the results can be terrible.
Most of us who have never experienced this are enormously grateful that we haven’t. We can’t imagine a life like this. This morning I am realizing that this is not necessarily true. Most of us are incredibly influenced by voices and sometimes to some very destructive results. It may not be clinical, but it is real all the same. I am not intending to dismiss or diminish the clinical reality of schizophrenia whatsoever. Just call to attention another phenomena that is only growing stronger as the information highway gets more congested. The voice I’m referring to is the fickle voice of public opinion.
Let’s consider politics for a moment (can’t believe I’m doing this). 2 years ago a new messiah appeared who, according to public opinion, would deliver us from evil. Last week I noted how this messiah ended up like all others before him, with public opinion quickly turning against him. Even THE Messiah understood the voice of public opinion. I’ve been in the pastoral role long enough to know that even I am not beyond the reach of public opinion. I have an attitude about the game of golf which keeps me humble. I’m only as good as my last shot. In leadership, in the vice of public opinion, I’m only as good as my last decision.
The voice of public opinion once told people to buy beyond their means…. Homes, cars, boats…after all, you deserve it. It told banks to lend beyond what people could reasonably pay. Now that same voice cries shame to all who heeded the original voices. There are voices that tell us that relationships aren’t worth working for, and at the same time people are literally dying of loneliness.
My point here is not that we should tune out the voices. They exist and they are only getting louder as time and the internet move on. We need to filter them. If we take the time to stop and filter, we’d probably understand that most voices are not coming through our context or our immediate circumstances. Many of those voices exist to validate their own warped views or crummy existence. If you take time, you can figure out which are in your best interest and which are self serving. I could tell you that you should wait for the still small voice of God, that He’ll never fail you or have ulterior motives in His message. You might think that it’s just a simplistic and childish way of dealing with a complex problem. I might have agreed with you except that it works.