(Pastor Fraser Venter)
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead
– his eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein
Have you ever intentionally paused your remote while watching a movie or TV show to capture a moment? Often it never freezes the characters face or body in a flattering way. Honestly, they just look awkward. I think that is how we sometimes feel about the idea of taking time to pause in our already too hectic schedule. So let me suggest another analogy about pausing that I recently read in Matthew Sleeth’s book 24/6 to help us move beyond the awkwardness.
“Six of us stood around a translucent, illuminated x-ray view screen. We were third-year medical students, and our overall knowledge of the basic sciences would never be better. We had mastered anatomy, pathology, physiology, and pharmacology. We knew everything about medicine – in theory. Now we were ready for our first lesson in radiology. So we took a deep breath, squared our shoulders, and stared at the front and side views of the chest x-rays on the screen. “See anything amiss?” the radiologist asked. Quiet.”
Sleeth goes on to describe the agony of looking at the x-ray and coming up with nothing and then he adds.
“I’ll give you a hint,” he said. “It’s not something there but something missing that bothers me.” even with this clue, we came up blank. And we really tried. We pointed to one thing after another, but each time the radiologist would shake his head no. Someone’s stomach rumbled. We were tired and hungry and ready to admit defeat. Our teacher mercifully gave away the answer in his final question: “where is the left clavicle?” Where was the left clavicle? It was missing. We hadn’t seen it because it wasn’t there. The patient’s collarbone had been eaten away, almost certainly by cancer. The take-home point? What’s missing does matter.” (Sleeth, 24/6: a Prescription for a healthier, happier life pp.3-4)
If we don’t practice the idea of a Sabbath pause we won’t even realize what is really missing in our lives. And what is missing? A time to not only just stop as we learned last week but to actually pause and see what is happening in us and around us. To evaluate what is happening in us in the midst of the day and what God is not only wanting to participate in but also partner with us in.
Can you imagine moments of pausing as a stay at home parent in the midst of picking up the kids, doing homework, getting food on the table, driving to the next extra-curricular event, coming home, and getting ready for the same thing the next day. Seems impossible? However, what if you paused long enough to ask God what He is doing in you as a parent? Paused long enough to ask for patience and wisdom to help your child with that algebra class (fill in your least favorite subject) that you barely made it through? Or simply pausing long enough to hear God’s voice remind you of the gift of your family or of His provision. I don’t think we would ever want to miss that. Do you?
Maybe it’s not in your home that you need the pause but in your marketplace. What would it look like to pause before your next meeting, employer/employee, install or customer and ask God what He wants to do in that moment? What He might want to use you in saying or doing? Imagine taking a few moments every morning to just pause and ask for wisdom in the job that seems difficult or the co-worker that seems impossible or the deadline that seem insurmountable or the next sale that you really need. Again, I don’t think we would ever want to miss that. How about you?
Pausing is simply saying that you will take a Sabbath moment to reflect on what is happening in you (joy, anxiety, fear, caution, expectancy) and asking God to align or submit these feelings to Him. Along with this, it is setting you up with a posture of hearing what He would love to share with you, in partnership, in your day.
The Bible has a word that depicts the idea of spontaneous pause as it relates to Sabbath and that is the word – Selah. The translation of Selah has baffled scholars since being in print in both the Psalms (71 times) and the minor prophet Habakkuk’s writings (3 times).
A possible translation for Selah in Hebrew is Calah, which means “to hang” or “to measure or weigh in balances.” (Job 28:19) It is the idea of ascribing value. Another way Selah has been translated is “to praise” or “to lift up.” However, the most common rendering of this word is, as you can probably guess…“to pause!” The idea of pausing was used in the Psalms, which were mostly songs, to indicate when an instrument or vocalist should take a breath and prepare for the next part of the song. Or to let the vocalist know it was time to stop singing and just let the instruments play.
And if you take the prophet Habakkuk’s three verses using the word Selah as a pause and to give praise for God’s mercy, grace, power and sufficiency one can see the importance of this reminder. I love how the Amplified Bible transliterates Selah by adding this phrase, “pause and calmly think about that!”
I would suggest that we should take all the ideas of Selah into the idea of our Sabbath pauses so that we may carefully weigh the value of God’s Word and voice in the moment. To simply pause all of our thoughts, ideas and actions and let God play His melody over us. And then to respond in praise for His mercy, grace, power and sufficiency for that particular moment or person in our day.