Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sunday Selah

The dog already straining eagerly on the leash, I held him back long enough for me to pull the front door closed behind me and make it safely down the front steps before giving him the go ahead to run to the top of the driveway to fetch the morning newspaper, dragging me along behind. But when my feet hit the grass I stopped a minute longer, held spellbound by the splendor in the sky. The rising sun had painted the thin cloud cover a glorious shade of pink, breathtaking in its beauty. Suddenly I was as eager as the dog to get to the road for a less obstructed view and raced alongside him, not wanting to miss a moment of the surprisingly beautiful sunrise. Once there I simply stood and stared, soaking in the sight for so long that even the dog got bored, having sniffed every rock and blade of grass within a leash-length of where I stood; so long that the heavy Sunday paper finally broke through the thin plastic sleeve encasing it and spilled all over the gravel at my feet. The spell likewise broken, I bent to pick up the scattered sections and headed back to the house, a satisfied smile on my face and incredible peace in my heart. There’s simply no better way to start a day.

There’s a word for a moment like that. I find it sprinkled all through the book of Psalms in my Bible. Every couple of verses or so it’s there in italics, perhaps to give it emphasis. Selah. Somewhere I read that it means, “Pause. Think about Me.” I printed the word and it’s definition inside the front cover of my journal the last couple of years to remind me what my morning devotional time is all about. It’s those moments (illustrated by my first actions with the dog this morning) in which I pull the door closed on the events of the day before and prepare to step safely into the new dawn - I hold the hounds at bay for a moment and look up to God for love, comfort, companionship, guidance, direction, or any combination thereof. Delighted with the glimpse I get there, I run in His direction for a better view, a fuller understanding of what He might have to show me, soaking in His glory while time stops still until my heart is so filled with peace that nothing I might face that day can possibly take it away. Now I simply won’t start my day any other way.

Of course, not every sunrise is as spectacular as the one I saw today. Some days there are no puffs of vapor in the sky to be lit up with the approaching rays. The sun simply comes up over the horizon, (we are grateful!) and we go on with our day. On other mornings the clouds hang so thick and low that we never catch a glimpse of the golden orb rising or setting, and we just go on in the knowledge that it’s up there somewhere whether we can see it or not, doing its job out of our view. And likewise not always are my morning devotional times filled with mind-blowing revelation or an overwhelming sense of the nearness of God. Many are the days I drink my coffee, read my Bible and speak to Him the words that have gathered in my heart without hearing a response write-worthy of the open journal pages before me. But even on those occasions when my troubles hang so darkly around me that God is hard to see, I am comforted by my conviction that He’s still actively working on my behalf to bless and prosper me in all areas of my life and in every moment of my day. The important thing is that I’ve stopped the ever-ticking time clock long enough to look in His direction.

Selah. Pause, and think about Me.

What’s important on a daily basis is perhaps equally so on a weekly one. We are instructed in the Bible to set apart one day as holy unto God, a day to cease from our regular activities and worship Him. And yet sometimes we find that difficult to do. Our lives are so pressure-packed that taking the time to gather with other believers in unity of purpose seems impossible. We mistakenly think we need those hours to accomplish all that needs to be done, and as we give in to that deception, we lose so much more than we gain in that time we should have set aside; we lose the peace of God’s presence and the power that is found in an ongoing relationship with Him. We simply need our Sunday Selahs to refocus our minds and thoughts, to reset our priorities and to connect with the like-minded individuals God has deliberately placed around us to encourage and inspire us.

But there’s another reason the Sunday Selah is important to God. When I had made it back to the house this morning, set the dog free of the leash and dumped the disheveled paper on the kitchen table, the first thing I did was grab my phone and wonder who else might be awake, so anxious was I to share the experience with somebody. While browsing on facebook a little while later I saw that a coworker had likewise seen the sunrise on her way in for an early shift and had posted a picture and a word about how the sight made going in to a difficult work situation a little more bearable. I smiled as I read the cyber stream of conversation that was quickly developing about the event.

I’ve seen the same thing happen when people make time for God on a Sunday morning and are impacted dramatically by a word in the pastor’s message, a song in the worship service or a simple thought expressed in a video or drama presentation. Sometimes just sitting in the presence of God affects them so deeply that we read all about it in facebook posts later in the day and hear it in conversations around us all the following week. The resultant chatter must surely make God smile, as word gets out that He has a whole lot to offer, both in this life and the next, if we’ll simply stop our running long enough to take a look.

Selah. Pause, and think about Me. And then go tell somebody about what you see.

“…And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2 AMP)

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