Musical Pauses and embracing Selah

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I arrived in the U.S. 22 years ago to attend college. One of the first extra-curricular activities I signed up for was College Choir. I learned all about reading music scores. I knew music pretty well thanks to taking piano as a child. My knowledge became a bit deeper when I was faced with the challenge of looking at different scores 5 days a week as we prepared for weekend performances and a summer tour. 

One of the things I appreciate the most as a singer are pauses. During Christmas season, we sang a compilation of Negro Spirituals written about the season. Our director always closed the concert with the Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. If you are familiar with this song, can you imagine signing it without taking a pause between a series of notes? Not only it would be impossible, we also would have an entire choir passing out because they are out of breath. Thank God for scheduled pauses. 

The Bible has the word "Selah" written 71 times. You find it mostly in the Psalms but you also find it written in Habakkuk. Selah means "pause and calmly think about that." Because Psalms are songs and poems, these pauses were most welcome for the first people who were singing those songs. 

I want to suggest that Selah is most welcome in our lives today. The use of Selah in the Bible is planned. Someone writes the song, plans pauses for those who sing along. 

God, who wrote the song of your life, is giving you a pause right now. Pause and calmly think about that. The pause may have arrived in the form of a government order. The pause may have arrived in the form of a life circumstance you didn't expect, but none of it, not one thing was a surprise for God. Pause and calmly think about that. 

God is the world's greatest composer. Everything He writes, is beutiful and good. Even the bad that arrives near us, is only there because He is okay with it. He is okay because He has a greater, redemptive plan. Pause and calmly think about that. 

I want to remind you that this, the life you are living, was composed by God. If your life is a song, God is the Creative Genious behind it. Pause and calmly think about that. 

In times of bounty or burden, I go to the Bible for wisdom. Last night, as we observed church in the home worship service, the leader read Psalm 46. It has the word Selah in it three times. Here is one instance:

"The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah" Psalm 46:7 (ESV)

The only way to get calm is to get the mind to embrace peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He offers perfect peace to those whose minds are fixed on Him because they trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3). 

The only way to to think about something is to get rid of every distraction. Internet distraction. News cycle distraction. Life drama distraction. I'm here to tell you can take a break and focus on God alone. 
Pauses were created by God. You can find them in Genesis as God rested after creating an entire universe. You can find it in Revelation when the Lamb opens the seventh seal and there was silence in heaven about half an hour (Revelation 8:1). We might as well take advantage of God's plan and pause right now. 

Prayer: Lord God, your wisdom is of old. Nothing is too surprising for you. Nothing is difficult for you. So I pause today to trust you. Free my heart of worry. Fill me with assurance of your truth. Your word is truth. You are in control of everything and I put my trust in You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen. 

Challenge for the day: Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media or news outlets, I will purposefully Pause and Calmly think about the truth I find in the Bible.