Saturday, June 16, 2012

SELAH (Pause and Calmly Think)

I love Saturdays!

It’s usually one of the highlights of my week. It gives me more time to sleep in, rest, read, reflect, pray, write, or just hang around and wait for what the no-agenda day has in store for me: could be an unplanned date with friends, time to curl up with a book, a lazy day with my computer (facebooking, chatting, blogging), opportunity for baking and cooking experiments and for a bit of cleaning up, or could be a space to just enjoy the warmth and silence of home.

Saturdays mean rest for me.

But this week (while away from home on a work-related travel), I’ve been learning about a different kind of rest. One that does not just happen on a Saturday, but the kind that truly gives you a break any time of day and week!

Have you encountered the word, “selah”?  It’s actually a musical term that signifies a pause or an interlude. I have come across this word several times while reading the book of Psalms. I consulted Google and discovered more about it - Selah is to:
  • stop and listen
  • weigh and value
  • hang
  • worship (in Aramaic)
  • break
  • reflect and understand
  • pause and calmly think of that! (as written in the Amplified Bible)
I have a very active mind. My imagination can go really out of control – to my disadvantage sometimes. I worry a lot – most often about things that are not true or never will be true. In a sense, my mind is noisy, thus making my heart restless. But this week, I’ve seen how my heart longs to have the Selah it needs:

To stop and listen. I’m here in busy and noisy Bangkok. But it’s such a sweet surprise to be having a meeting in a guest home that offers quiet rest amidst chirping birds and trees that make a rain-like sound. It’s so easy to ignore this nature-produced music, in the same way that we could miss God’s still small voice if we are not attentive. To hear Him, we need to quiet our minds and hearts and kill the nagging sound of worries, paranoia, fears, disappointments, and sadness. Then, really listen…and hear. He has so much to say.

To weigh and value. We make plans and life sometimes happens totally different from our hopes and expectations. How do we respond? To rest is to let every circumstance fade in the glowing light of God’s will. We measure our experiences against the weight of the wonderful plans that God has for us. Then, we realize that our momentary troubles mean nothing compared to the surpassing value of having God in our lives. His presence and promises far outweigh anything that this life could throw at us. We fix our eyes on Him. We rest our hearts in His and trust His good, pleasing and perfect will.

To hang and just worship. Have you been in situations that felt like you’re against the wall? You don’t know what to do. No more space for another step – it’s dead end! You’re left hanging. That’s a “selah moment”. While you’re there hanging and helpless, just worship. Think about who God has been, is and will be to you. Let go of the need to move and let God move mightily on your behalf. You’ll realize that being left hanging can be turned into restful waiting for God to intervene and remove you from where you are.

It’s Saturday today. I slept in, read a bit, reflected on my week, prayed, went online, and wrote this. This afternoon, I plan to go out, eat and shop. It will be noisy and crowded outside but I’ll keep my mind and my heart on Selah mode.

Rest happens in the heart in full trust, complete reliance and confident leaning upon the Lord. In our hearts, God is there. Wherever God is, we can find rest.

Selah: pause and calmly think of that!

The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." – Exodus 33:14


  1. Another great post!
    Thanks for the reminder!
    I need to be in Selah mode now! :D