Dr. Eldred Marshall, Artist-in-Residence, Associate Director of Music Ministries
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
– 1 Kings 19:11-12 NKJV
This past Wednesday morning began as every other since July 11: a walk along a noisy and crowded Flushing, Queens, New York sidewalk to the subway station, hoping and praying that an express train to Manhattan (Times Square/42nd Street) would be available.
However, a question randomly popped in my head.
“If humans are made in the image and likeness of God, is God noisy?”
I answered myself, “Well, God is hugely into music, just like us.
“He likes to hear choirs sing His praises. Even the heavenly bodies in the galaxy make sounds!
“And Jesus got killed for the noise He made while on Earth. Of course, God isn’t necessarily quiet.”
Later that day, after rehearsal, I decided to get some dinner before going to the piano practice studios near Lincoln Center in midtown Manhattan.
On a street corner near Penn Station (34th Street and 7th Avenue), I heard an accompaniment track playing the hymn tune HENDON, which is commonly sung to the text Take My Life and Let it Be.
In the near deafening noise that is lower Manhattan, I could faintly hear the song, and I started singing it out loud as I walked to the restaurant.
After dinner, I took the train up to Lincoln Center.
Because I was uncharacteristically early to my appointment, I sat in a park near the Tony Plaza.
A clock struck 7:00pm, and then I faintly heard synthetic church bells playing the iconic hymn Abide With Me.
As I was enjoying and soon about to sing along, a drumline marched down the street and completely drowned out this prayerful hymn.
I had a realization I felt impressed to share:
God chooses not to compete with our noise.
In fact, our being silent in His presence is one of the humblest acts we can perform.
It is our way of acknowledging that God’s “noise” is more important than our own.
Then I asked myself, “Do I keep myself too busy to allow the voice of God to be heard?
“Is my mind too polluted with the philosophies of this world to allow God to reveal to me what He wants me to see?”
I don’t know, but this past Wednesday in New York City gave me much to consider.