Have you ever had a ringing in your ears? It's a really irritating experience, and thankfully it is usually quite temporary. I have read that the ringing is caused by the breaking of the small strands inside the eardrum which resonate with auditory stimulus. It is these strands which first pick up the sound waves which are later translated in our brains into words, music, sirens, etc. The breaking of these strands represents hearing loss. For that reason, ringing in my ears has become considerably more irritating than it used to be. It has always been irritating though.
Sometimes distracting noise comes from inside our own head. When we talk about spiritual noise, success is one of those distractions that comes from within.
I love success. I love a job well-done. I love to stand back and admire the completed task at the end of a day of painting, gardening, or organization. The thing with success, is that in many circumstances it is quite measurable. If we're an actor, we can measure it by movie profits and academy awards. If we're an insurance salesman, we can measure it in contracts signed and commissions collected. If we're counselor, we can measure it by clients served and relationships restored. No matter who we are, we like to measure it in our paycheck, our title, our popularity, and our accumulations. But we do like to measure it.
I have run into a couple of problems in this respect. First, no matter what success I have already accomplished, there is always a new one laying ahead of me to which I must strive. And second, the most important things in this world are not so easy to measure.
Rarely are spiritual things quickly achieved in increments that more in a consistently forward momentum. But often include (and necessarily so) backtracking and side journeys. The things that seem like struggles or curses are lessons in spiritual maturity taught in the classroom of day to day living. What may be a setback in our career may be a leap forward in our spiritual life. The financial misfortune can be a spiritual boost. The physical ailment can be a spiritual vitamin boost. What may seem to be a loss can be a gain. What seems to be a burden can be an aid.
And so in my head is this noise that tries to lead my focus to measure things in terms of immediate success. I can easily be so enamored with a promotion or a raise that I begin to focus on achieving the next one. I can easily become so busy looking at numeric measuring tools that I am not listening to the still small voice of God leading me.
Yes, this noise in my head is such a distraction that I have missed many significant opportunities to see God and His plan clearly. This noise in my head is powerful and destructive. And sometimes the duration of the noise in potently long and leads me to grief.
It is said that God is looking for faithful people, not necessarily successful people. Or that God's definition of success is not the same as ours. Or that God doesn't need our success to accomplish His objective. If God's greatest success, the cross, looked like an unequivocal failure, then I am probably significantly handicapped at understanding His measure of success. I should therefor not strive for success by my own definition.