Year In Focus: Selah…

smell6

I’m a shallow breather. Every now and then I end up taking a huge, full breath. It’s like I’m having to catch up. At 60, I’m used to the pattern. In fact it’s so natural for me that I often don’t realize that I’m doing it.

But those around me do, and they regularly ask me if something’s wrong because I sound like I’m sighing—at least that’s what I’ve been told. It’s gotten to the point that my husband asks, “Breathing or sighing?” He doesn’t want to assume and he wants to be sure I’m okay.

I don’t know how long I’ve done this. I asked a doctor once about it, but they sort of blew the whole thing off as a non-issue. So I don’t worry about it.

But I wonder. This forgetting to breathe sometimes feels like a metaphor for my life. I move at a pretty fast pace. I take on a lot. A little improvement has come with age and awareness (aka acceptance) of my limitations.

How does this apply to my theme this year of stillness and rest?

I’m glad you asked.

16AE0876-B506-4AD8-86CC-AD9C36375BD4

I need to learn to pause. I can’t keep going at a speed that leaves no room for breathing.

Last week I was reading in Psalms, the prayer book of the Bible, and I noticed a word I tend to skip over. My New Living Translation uses the word “interlude.” Older translations have the word, Selah, set off to the side. Essentially, the word is an invitation to pause. To take some time consider the previous verses—to let the Truth sink in deeply.

I don’t know about you, but I like that…I need that. And not just when I’m reading scripture. I need to schedule in time to reflect the same way I am intentional about getting up and moving each hour (Thank you FitBit).

My recent reading about sabbath reinforced the truth that it is not simply empty inactivity, just as spiritual fasting isn’t merely not eating. Pausing to catch my breath isn’t Selah. Inherent within Selah is the spiritual practice of reflection, listening, and focus. It won’t happen unconsciously or outside of my intention.

So today, I will be looking for moments to stop, breathe, and reflect. I hope you find some, too.

303F3EE3-AF33-4F15-97EB-504F6C4E3852

Be still!

(On Mondays I plan to write posts that come from my reflections on my word/topic of focus for this year—which is stillness, rest, sabbath.)

Be still and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10a

2033DEDC-94E4-463D-8FF4-FF6574DC2082

 

I have often described myself as an ESFP with ADD. My friends may tell you I’m somewhat outgoing, seemingly scattered, and  often unfocused. Perception is pretty close to reality.

I don’t like the description of the Proverbs 31 woman or Peter’s instruction: You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God (1 Peter 3:4, NLT).

Gentle and quiet are two words few people associate with me.

In fact, if for some reason I am quiet, people ask me what’s wrong. When I’m in public, I don’t do quiet well.

As I have aged, however, I have found I enjoy being alone…and quiet. I can turn off the TV, sometimes even goe sans music—and just be still.

But my stillness, my quiet reveree, lacked something. Until recently when I began asking God to reveal my direction for 2018.

Several years abo, I started writing a Bible study and one of the chapters was on the command to keep sabbath. I found myself being drawn back again and again to  the books I had gathered on the topic and stuck on a corner of a bookshelf in my office.

Holding one of the books, I felt a strong resonning in my spirit. A loud “YES!” Resonated within me from head to toe.

Okay, God. I got it, but I don’t get it.

And the whisper came back, “You will.”

Then one of the devotions in the first week of the year reflected on how Elijah didn’t hear God in the storm or earthquake—but in the quiet whisper. And the whisper was a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Sitting in my quiet family room, holding the small book, I sensed my eyes filling with tears…and I heard God whisper, “Tina, what are you doing here?”

I didn’t have an answer. Still don’t. But you better believe I’ve been thinking about it. Even created the meme at the top of this blog.

The question is one of those kinds that when you say it you can put emphasis on a different word and change the meaning: What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here?

After determining the direction, I felt compelled to be accountable. In the past I’ve lost interest and attention to my word/focus before I reached February. I might remember it later in the year—and have a few moments of guilt. I decided to not let that happen this year.

So every Monday I’m going to reflect on this with you, or at least with myself. I don’t know where it will go. Thankfully, I don’t have to…I’m just going to be obedient, and still, and listen for the whisper.

What are you doing here?

Resting

(This is a reposting of a Facebook Note from November 1, 2009)

WP broken clock

Where I work I spend most of my time in two rooms, the kitchen and dining room. They are open to each other. In those two rooms there are four clocks. Should I venture into either bathroom there’s a clock there, too. I never have to wonder or worry about what time it is.

Time. When we think about it we wonder what time it is. We wonder if we’re late or early. How much time do we have? What do we do with our time? We’re accused of wasting time, marking time, stretching time, and watching time fly by.

I used to rush through my days. I was proud of how much I could cram into a day. More was always better and therefore, resulted in a better me. When I gave up sleep to focus on saving the world (or at least my little corner), I made some of the stupidest and most dangerous decisions, decisions that nearly cost me everything, including my life. I finally came to the conclusion that there is a reason that God rested and a reason that he commands it of us, as well.

This morning was the time to change our clocks. It was time to “fall back.” While others were relishing an extra hour of sleep, I was awake and at my computer. I was reveling in the quiet. All I could hear was the rhythm of the clocks ticking around me. Now maybe if I only had that to listen to 24/7, it would become tortuous, but sitting here this morning, it was a Centering Symphony.

I was up “early” because someone imposed a time change on me. Isn’t that just how life seems to go? We grouse and complain because our time is not our own. Someone always seems to be demanding our time.

Recently, I was a t a retreat where the leaders took the watches and phones of the participants. The surrender was to free those attending from the tyranny of time. The thinking was/is to let the staff “worry” about time and schedule. Good as it was, the staff always had someplace for the participants to go or something for them to do, so there was no sense of “free time.”

Compare that to the experience of our house guest. We have a couple unoccupied rooms in our home, so we opened our space to a pastor friend who was between jobs with no place to stay. The first couple weeks she was with us, all she did was sleep, eat, and watch TV. Our interactions were minimal. Slowly, opportunities and necessities began to reenter her life and she began to go out with friends and go to some meetings. One day she came through the living room where I was reading. She sat and we chatted for a while. At the end of our talking, she shared how much she appreciated the opportunity to just be there with no expectations, just able to rest. It was the refreshing that she needed at every level of her being: heart, mind, soul, and strength.

In the great Shepherd Psalm (Psalm 23), we find so much of the care provided to and for us. One of the things we may overlook is that he who knows us and our needs makes us lie down. Thinking of this reminded me of my grandson. I can always tell when Asher needs a nap. Some days so can he. Don’t make the Shepherd bop you on the head with his crook to get you to rest. We were not created to go 24/7.

One day as Jesus was ministering, he looked out at the crowd and was moved to compassion when he saw how weary and out of synch they were. He offered them rest, to restore their rhythm. To receive this gift they needed to come to him and learn from him. Don’t you think it’s time to listen, to learn, to rest?

Advent 19: Silent Night

I was surfing Christmas music on youtube when I came across this song by Amy Grant:

I’d never heard it before, so I sat and listened. And right at the end of the video a scene popped up that moved me and made me cry.

That last scene was in an app I downloaded for my phone and NookHD+. I selected it for my wallpaper on both. There was something very homey and comforting about it. It was like an invitation to step back and keep Christmas without all the hustle and bustle.

Seeing it there in this song was like a hug from God. And in my spirit I could hear him saying, “Whoa, little one. Slow down. You are racing so. Look at you all in a frenzy.”

I sat quietly and pondered this whole “resting” thing. Why is it so hard for people? So I decided to ask google. I found one article by a trainer described how he taught “chargers” to rest effectively. (Here’s the addy: http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/learning-to-rest-teaching-hard-chargers-to-slow-down-and-relax .)

What he was saying reminded me of when I worked at Curves (The Workout Place for Women). When we coached people through the program we put strong emphasis on the cool down and stretching portion of the workout. Invariably at least half the women would skip this portion, citing a need to be somewhere else and promising to do it next time.

We just don’t slow down well.

Throughout the Psalms there’s a little word that we often gloss right over. It occurs 71 times there and three times in Habakkuk 3. The word is Selah. While there is some confusion over its exact meaning, it is most often described as a musical term which we would closely associate with a rest, bringing an oppotunity to pause, to mediate on what was just read or sung.

If our bodies need to physically pause to restore, should it come as any surprise that our spirits need that also?

So God’s gift came in the dark of night. In the quiet of night. Third shift. Quiet. Still. Selah.

Yeah, I think we could all use a Slient Night.

%d bloggers like this: