How’s your Monday going? Mine? Well, it’s 7:30 pm on Monday, and I’m finally sitting down to write this post for the second time because the draft didn’t save, and I didn’t have my notes with me at work to recreate it during my lunch break. In reality, not a big deal, but I was more than a little frustrated earlier. (Fun fact: I write most of my Monday Musings on Sundays because it’s sort of like being up against a deadline, but a day early.)
Time to leave all that frustration behind and get back to the other subject on my mind – reflecting. *deep breath* Pausing, reflecting.
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m not always comfortable with the slowing down and thinking deeply. I speak quickly, I write quickly, I think quickly. I like to think deep thoughts, sure, but I prefer for them to come in a flash of insight. Pondering is work. You know how some little kids are just incapable of sitting still for even the shortest amount of time? That’s my brain. Sitting in the chair, humming a song, kicking its little feet, asking if it’s time to get up yet. For real. Some days it’s a miracle that I manage to put together cohesive sentences in real life where I can use facial expressions to get my point across, let alone dig for spiritual truths and present them in an ordered format here in an online space of text and distance.
And the reality is, for me, there are some things I don’t want to stop and think about. I avoid reflecting, on purpose, because I know where the Holy Spirit wants to direct my thoughts. Probably no one else can identify with that. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one.
So I keep my days and my mind filled with activity. I work full time, I stay active on social media, I work with fiber craft that has me constantly thinking ahead within the project. Even in my quiet time, with my Bible and journal, I try to control the flow of the study, and the outcome of the conversation the Spirit is trying to have with me. I avoid the prompts to pause and reflect, because if I reflect to the point of understanding, there might be action required of me.
Okay, so I know I’m not the only one who does this. How do I know? Because in the Old Testament there’s this Hebrew word, Selah, that’s used 71 times. It has some variations in spelling, and I’m certainly not an expert in the Hebrew language, but for the most part it’s meaning seems to be a command to PAUSE.
Selah is actually a musical term, and you see it most in the Psalms (maybe you’ve noticed it in some Psalms, and you’ve kind of skipped over it, because you didn’t know what it meant). It was a direction to the musicians to pause – to actually stop playing. The purpose of the pause was to force the worshipers to think back over the words they had just sung. To reflect and examine, to allow the lyrics to bathe their minds and souls with truth.
One very famous Selah Psalm is Psalm 46, and I’m actually putting together a series of posts covering this Psalm (which is part of why I was so frustrated, that was a lot of work!!). In Psalm 46 we get a song written in 3 distinct sections, with a Selah after each. It is thought that Psalm 46 describes a real historical event, possibly an Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. Sometimes we’re tempted to read this Psalm with modern eyes and take the imagery of battle scenes as metaphor for God’s protection in our own lives. But the people who heard and sang this song would have remembered the events of those days. The direction to Pause. Reflect. would have been more than just “think about what it might mean” – they were actively remembering all the emotions they experienced as well as the sounds, smells, sights…
The wonderful thing about the way the Psalm is written, though, is that it does prompt anyone reading it to put themselves back into their own day of battle. Even if we weren’t physically huddled together in fear of Assyrian oppressors, each one of us still has a moment (or more than one) that we can point back to and say, “God was there. I’m still not sure how it’s okay, but today, things are okay.”
That is a major part of my story – God has always been there. I have no idea how I’m okay, but today I am. I hope you’ll pray with me and prepare to have your own Selah moments over the next few weeks as we look at these words that have given so many people comfort around the world for thousands of years.