Discovering Selah

How I learned to weave times of rest into the busy fabric of my life

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” — Isaiah 30:15b

Every time I read this verse, memories of my reluctant submission to the concept of “rest” come flooding back to me.

You would have none of it. That had been the convicting part ... that was me. Combine a naturally high energy level with a people- pleaser personality, and what you get is a woman who can’t say no and who doesn’t know when to stop. I gave a passing nod to scriptures that spoke of God’s rest, complained of exhaustion with more than a little bit of pride mixed in, and burned my candle at both ends—with a blowtorch.

At about age forty, it all caught up with me, and I ended up in the hospital suffering from extreme and ongoing insomnia. God had my attention. And that's when He began to teach me “Selah.”

Selah (See-la) is a Hebrew word found in ancient songs and poetry, generally thought to be “a musical interlude; to pause and think about [the words] just said or sung; or to pause and watch for a visual demonstration of what was said or sung.” (Bible.org)

I’ve come to believe that taking time to pause and reflect is essential to fruitful living. When I rest in a time of Selah … life becomes sweet. Since that time of hardship, now years ago, God has taught me rich lessons about the goodness of His rest.

  • His greatest commandment is that we love Him. Not that we do for Him. When I rest and am still, I have the time to whisper to Him, “I love You,” and our relationship grows strong and deep.

  • Stopping to rest is actually energizing. Truly, in quietness and trust is your strength. When I “shut down” and practice quietness, something happens to my body. It is replenished, and I gain new strength. Ready to go again, I accomplish more because I stopped.

  • Bookending my day with Selah time helps my whole day go more smoothly. I start the day by spending quiet time with Jesus, my tea, and my Bible, and end each day with a Christian fiction novel, a warm mug of milk, feet up, and happy.

  • When I stop for a weekly Sabbath rest, I demonstrate my trust in Him. Will everything really get done if I stop working around sundown Saturday until sundown Sunday? Amazingly … yes!

  • Once a month I take a Sweet Selah Day. I might walk by the ocean and admire His handiwork or invest in serious prayer for my family or sing to Him every word of every song on one of my favorite CDs. A day set aside for Him, and, oh, it fills me up and satisfies.

From exhaustion and people pleasing, God brought me to a place of realization that it was more of Him I needed. Through rest, repentance, quietness, and trust I have come to value—and actually love—His command to Selah.

You, dear reader, are invited to join me in this journey toward living well by serving with diligence—but also stopping for sweet Selah times along the way. All of us need to take time to “ponder the pattern our lives are weaving.” (John Baillie)

Heavenly Father, sometimes it is so hard to rest. I feel like I always have too much to do. And yet I know You call me to rest. Help me to seek quiet. Protect me from the enemy who would whisper that somehow being still and stopping is wasting time. Help me to see that in being still and knowing You, I find new strength. I want to live differently, Lord. I don’t want to be so busy that I miss You. Help me find the quiet spots, Lord, in the midst of busy days. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.