I’ve read two books in the past two weeks that encourage choosing ONE WORD for the year. One is titled One Word that Will Change Your Life. The other is My One Word. I’ve spent several weeks drilling down on this. I started out with a laundry list. Then I got it down to a short list. Then I thought I had landed on the word margin, but I changed my mind. My 2013 word is selah.
I think it’s one of the most mysterious words and important words in Scripture. It appears 74 times in the Hebrew Scripture. To be honest, biblical scholars aren’t 100% exactly what it means. And that’s why I like it. Here’s my take on it.
It probably refers to a musical pause. And I like that concept, even though I’m not a musician. Like music, our lives have a time signature. And we need to strategically rest so that we keep in harmony, in melody.
Here are some random takes on selah.
It’s change of pace + change of place = change of perspective. It’s being 100% present–listening with your heart, thinking with your soul, and laughing from your gut. It’s living each day like it’s the first day and last day of your life. Or in the words of Martin Luther, it’s living like Jesus was crucified yesterday, rose today, and is coming back tomorrow! It’s enjoying the journey.
It’s considering the lilies–Matthew 6:28. It’s numbering your days–Psalms 90:12. It’s redeeming the time–Ephesians 5:16. It’s being still and remembering that He is God–Psalm 46:10. It’s casting your cares upon Him–I Peter 5:7.
At some point, most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory. We get into a relational, spiritual or emotional rut. Selah is the solution. It’s the margin we need to daydream. It’s the one day in God’s courts that is far better than the thousand days spent elsewhere. That is when and where and how we dream God’s dreams. The more we pray, the more we dream. And the more we dream, the more we have to pray! Selah.
According to Blaise Pascal, the 17th century French philosopher, “All of man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.” Corrie Ten Boom said, “If the devil can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy.”
One of my defining moments last year was our anniversary trip to Mackinaw Island. We sat on the porch of the Grand Hotel and let the world pass us by for a few days! That’s selah. There are no motorized vehicles on Mackinaw. Just the clip-clop of horses hooves! That’s selah.
By personality, I’m driven. And I’m certainly not advocating for anything less than working like it depends on you. But you also need to rest like it depends on God. The Sabbath is selah. It’s reminding yourself that God is the one who keeps the planets in orbit.
Selah is resting in God’s mercies the same way you put your full weight in a hammock and swing back and forth on a beautiful spring day.
Selah is controlling your calendar so your calendar doesn’t control you. Selah is Spirit-led spontaneity. Selah is the willingness to go out of your way.
Life isn’t measured in minutes. It’s measured in moments. It’s the difference between chronos and kairos. Don’t make a living. Make a life!
Selah.Jan 16, 2013 | Mark Batterson