R & R

The LORD is my shepherd . . . He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. —— Psalm 23:1,2 NIV 

When the kids were little and I was a stay-at-home mom, January was my R & R month. Just as the military gives its troops time for rest and relaxation to refresh them for the battles to come, I, too, found fighting life’s day-to-day battles left me with an I’m-so-tired-I-can’t-go-on feeling. Especially after the hectic holidays.

So after the decorations were put away, and the house returned somewhat back to normal, I decided I needed a vacation of sorts. I couldn’t afford to fly off to a warmer climate, and the frigid temperatures, blowing snow, and howling winds of a typical Northeast January made traveling anywhere but to town for groceries a battle in itself. So why not hole up and take the first month of the year to refresh my spirits and rejuvenate my energy?

I spent the time reading and working on a sewing or crocheting project. My family enjoyed homemade bread, cinnamon rolls made from scratch, and other goodies I usually didn’t have the time to make. When the kids had a snow day, we played board games and sipped hot chocolate topped with a healthy dollop of extra creamy whipped topping.

When February rolled around, I was ready to come out of my self-imposed hibernation and face the world.

Rest is important to body, mind, and spirit. That’s why God commands us “to remember the Sabbath day.” The Hebrew words for “Sabbath” means “cessation.” One day in seven was set aside for rest and worship. God Himself set the precedent when He ceased from His work of creating the universe and everything in it.

Nowadays it seems the world spins faster. Technology has increased the pace of life. We’re slaves to overcrowded schedules. We over-commit our time and overdo ourselves, but for what purpose?

More than ever, we need a Sabbath day, and, yes, even a Sabbath month or year, to recharge our spent energy, refocus our goals, redirect our steps, and renew stalled-out dreams. 

Thank You, God, for the renewal a Sabbath brings. Amen.  

Read and reflect on Psalm 23.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Selah!

Read and reflect on Psalm 46.

Selah!  – Psalm 46: 3, 7, 11 NIV

If I were to choose a Scripture for the New Year—as a theme verse to reflect on throughout the year—I’d select a word used 74 times in the Bible, mostly in Psalms (71 times—the other three can be found in Habakkuk) and often overlooked. Perhaps we ignore it because it’s only one little word of five letters standing all by itself at the end of a verse. Perhaps we pay little attention to it because no one knows with certainty its meaning, not even biblical scholars. So we skip right over it and keep on reading.

But the word selah (pronounced SEE-lah) is not to be ignored, even if we don’t know what it means.

Strong’s Concordance defines selah as “to lift up, to exalt.” 

So the first word I want to focus on is praise.

Sometimes the phrase “Praise God!” slips through our lips almost meaninglessly and is soon forgotten. How often do we truly praise God—from the heart, not just the mouth?

On a drive to my doctor’s appointment one time, I spent nearly the entire 45 minutes praising God—aloud. It all started when I thanked Him for dry roads and good weather. One praise flowed after another. Once the pump was primed, the water of praise just gushed out. 

Too often I focus on my problems, not on praise. Can it really be that much easier to list a litany of laments than all the ways God has lavished us with His love?

Another definition for selah is “the writer’s instruction to the reader to pause and exalt the Lord,” or “pause and calmly think of that!” 

The focus here is on the word pause.

How often do we intentionally pause and think about the blessings God has poured into our lives? Or to take time to know Him better? I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t give God the time He is due. Too often my prayer and Bible reading time is like rushing through the drive-through, gobbling junk to appease my hunger, rather than take the time to savor the banquet and sip from the overflowing cup of blessings my Lord places before me (Psalm 23:5). 

Try it. Put your day on pause and sit down and focus on your blessings. Little things. Big things. Speak them aloud—there’s power in the spoken word—or write them down. It won’t be long before the clouds of hopelessness and despair part, and you feel the warmth of His sunshine in your soul.

Pause and praise—and one more thing—Presence.

Just as the meaning of selah is uncertain, so are the days that will comprise 2022. 

But of one thing I am certain: That His Presence will go with me (Exodus 33:14). For He has promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6).

What is your focus verse for 2022?

Thank You, Lord, for being with me every moment of every day. Remind me to pause and praise You often throughout the New Year. Amen.

TO MY READERS: Happy New Year! May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace throughout the New Year. (Numbers 6:24–26)

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.