The word Selah appears 74 times in the Old Testament. Its exact meaning is unknown but two common definitions are:
- pause and think of that
- a form of underlining in preparation for what comes next
I love both of those definitions. I think they go hand in hand. Having run the grueling marathon of the end of the school year, my heart whispers—Selah. In warm long evenings spent on my porch, my heart whispers louder and louder—Selah.
Selah. Let’s stop. Let’s just stop and think of that…think of the school year that is ending, think of the ways the kids have sprouted up and grown up, think of how my job is going, how my family is doing, how my marriage is fairing…yes, yes, yes…all of it. I want to just stop and think of that.
Selah. Let’s stop, and prepare for what comes next. Something is always on the horizon—changes, opportunities, and challenges. A pause to prepare for them mentally, relationally, and most importantly, spiritually is a gift I believe God wants us to have. He is ready to whisper encouragement, comfort, and guidance for the coming season, if only we are willing to stop and listen.
My heart has been whispering Selah not just for me, but for my husband and my girls too. I want them to be able to push a pause button on life—a pause to think, a pause to prepare, a pause to hear from God, and a pause to rest their weary selves.
For the last few years we have declared the first week of June for Selah. Twice we have spent the week with friends at a nearby lake. A week on the lake with friends and family is either the epitome of Selah, or a peek at heaven, or maybe both. The days are unstructured and unplanned. We soak up sun, and sleep, and good books. Several years, including this one, we will stay at home, but we claim Selah no less. We will soak up sun and devour new books while sitting at the pool. We will go for a hike and a long bike ride. We will go get ice cream at 9:00—just because we can.
But Selah takes work, or at least it is a choice made with effort. It has shown me why there is actually a word for STOP, or pause, or whatever the author meant. As a people we are not wired to stop easily. The laws of physics demand that an object in motion stays in motion, and that law applies to people too. When Selah was written in the Psalms, it was an instruction, because pausing doesn’t just happen, it is something we have to choose. We have to choose to stop working and block some time out on our calendar. It might just be a Saturday that we choose to let the grass go long so we can take the kids fishing for the day. It might mean a weekend when we let the house stay dirty another week, while we pack up the car and go camping or to the beach. Or maybe it’s a whole week, where we choose to block out our work calendars, decide to let the VM’s and emails pile up, and we just Selah. We just stop, and we let our kids stop too.
As the summer days grow longer and warmer, I pray for your family that you will take God up on the idea of Selah. That you will just pause, you will take some quiet moments to think of all that has happened this school year, and you will stop and ask God to prepare you for whatever may be coming next. You will just pause.
Selah, my friends.
Wendy Anderson Shulz
*How does your family plan to find rest and Selah this summer? Please share your thoughts and comments below!