“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” – Hebrews 4:11
Lorah, my twenty year old daughter, was in tears! She was tired and she was in need of sleep – two entirely different things. As I hugged her to comfort her she said,
“When is my ‘to do’ list ever going to be complete?”
Her frustration was one that many of us face, a life of never ending tasks and the constant feeling that there is more to do than we will ever have time to complete. As I tried to console her, I realised that offering to take on some of her workload wouldn’t help her. What I needed to do was to teach her to manage her life well.
Rest is mentioned so many times in the Bible in so many ways for so many reasons, it is a very important part of life. Without understanding how to rest we will burnout or end up being totally overwhelmed with life! This is not God’s plan for us, ‘life abundantly’ does not mean life so busy that we can’t cope and want to find a shortcut to heaven. Life abundantly means living an abundant life here on earth. Being permanently exhausted is not an abundant life, it is no life at all.
There are four types of rest that I want us to delve into – menuchah, anapauo, Shabbat and selah.
“He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.” – David, Psalm 57:3
Selah is a Hebrew word for pause סֶלָה. It is used mostly in the Psalms to indicate a pause in the music. It can also be an instruction on the reading of the text, something like “stop and listen”. Although this is most often used in music, it offers us a great key to leading a balanced life because the ‘to do’ list will never end. There are big rests like holidays and weekly rests like the Shabbat, but selah is a little gem that will keep us from falling apart in between the big rests and the weekly rests. Selah is like coming up for air when you are swimming or taking a quick breath of air when singing your heart out.
Selah is also the pause that keeps things in perspective and makes the symphony of life sound beautiful. Can you imagine a piece of music without pauses or a poem being read without a breath being taken? Life is like that too, can you imagine what life would look like if we didn’t stop and pause at regular intervals?
Selah comes from the primary Hebrew root word calah which means ‘to hang,’ and by implication to measure (weigh). In Biblical history, money, food and other valuables were weighed by hanging them on a type of balance. This means that we should measure carefully and reflect upon the statements preceding selah when reading the Psalms. To me it also means that selah is an important ingredient to a balanced life.
So how do we translate that into our modern day living? In Lorah’s case, it might mean that she needs to take regular short pauses through out her days, instead of rushing from one thing to the next. What I like to do, is to sit in my garden whenever I can, just to take a moment to stop and selah. It’s just a short, five minute pause, where I sit and look at the birds or squirrels in the garden or simply take a deep breath of fresh air. It is in those times that I can also reflect on something that I need to consider or simply have a minute with God and ask His opinion on my day or something specific.
Other times I sit in my rocking chair and gaze out of my bedroom window with a nice cup of coffee or perhaps take a short walk on a beautiful sunny day! Working from home has it’s advantages and disadvantages but one great advantage is the flexibility to balance each day with reglular pauses. There are so many things that can be done to create a balanced life and creating opportunities to selah will lead to a much better, balanced life.
Working in an office can also offer moments of selah. Perhaps you can step outside for a short five minute walk, I am sure smokers in your company step outside for a smoke break so why don’t you step outside for a selah break? Other employees might drink ten cups of coffee a day, which amounts to a lot of time spent making and drinking coffee and without realising it they are breaking up their day with short pauses too.
Do not feel guilty under any circumstances for breaking up your day with short pauses. You will eventually be a better employee for it as you will be less stressed and more productive in general. A healthy person is always better off than an unhealthy person and investing in rest will naturally lead to better health! Having short pauses during your day is a choice and you can make it work no matter what your day or workplace looks like.
This is a chapter snippet from He Restores My Soul. Find out more about menuchah, anapauo, Shabbat – some other types of rest – in He Restores My Soul.