Practicing Pause


Interruptions are common in my life. So common, in fact, that I’ve been forced to learn to do things in stops and starts, a little at a time. Some things don’t get finished for weeks or months, which drives me about nuts. Nevertheless, I cannot change this, and so I’ve learned to try to focus on the value of that which brings the interruption.

Usually, that would be my kids. Occasionally it is my husband, or a friend that needs help. Sometimes it’s a real emergency. Whatever the interruption is, it always has some redeeming value. Mostly, I’ve come to realize that interruptions rescue me from becoming wholly immersed in my own agenda and forgetting that there is a world all around me which God has called me to be an active part of. Sometimes, the interruptions jar me out of processing the events of my life through my own little lens and believing that all is as I think it should be!

More than anything, I hate when my thinking process gets interrupted. It feels like I imagine a car jacking might feel. You’re just going along your way somewhere, being intentional, and you get robbed of not only your vehicle, but your destination as well! It is frustrating, to say the least…if all you are aware of and focused on is yourself and your plans. Sometimes we get so driven in a certain direction that we expect the rest of the world to line up with whatever it is we’re trying to get accomplished.

Have you ever found yourself moaning and groaning about a traffic accident because it slowed you down or kept you from getting to where you needed to be (and you were already late to begin with)? This is a prime example of expecting the world to line up with our plans. What about the ones whose car just got crunched, or whose lives just got altered…maybe permanently? I use this example because I’ve been the one to get frustrated at the delay rather than snapped back into reality by the interruption meant to reconnect me to humanity, and to the bigger picture God is always holding for my life.

Practicing pause, unfortunately, is something I’ve learned to do because I’ve had no choice. But recently, as I started to read through the Psalms of the Bible again, the practice of pause came alive to me in a whole new light. Did you know that God built interruptions into His Word?!

The word Selah is a word used in many of the Psalms. It is almost always written in italic letters off to the right margin, usually following a thought or a section of thoughts. Beginning in Psalm 3, this little word is written into the thought processes, the heart cries of God’s people, as a built in place to pause in God’s presence and interrupt the torrents of emotion long enough to recognize the presence of another reality.

Because many of the Psalms were written as musical songs, some believe that Selah is the notation for a musical rest, still an interruption to the normal stream of things. Actually, many musicians will tell you that the musical rests are the most important part of a song. They are what give the song its definition.

The same could be true of the Selahs in our lives, if we practice them in all the places where God has built them in. These little pockets of rest, these moments of practicing pause in God’s presence and there learning to process – or re-process – our thoughts and feelings, could well change the way we live. It could very much redefine our lives, if not our entire selves.

And I believe that’s just what God had in mind for us when He built these interruptions into the words penned by people who rejoiced, grieved, feared, lamented, suffered, and fought in all manner of situations. In the midst of their very honest searchings for God, God invites us to practice pause, and to search for Him right along with them. And almost always, the song resumes with the success of that search, with the rest of the story that we couldn’t see on this side of the pause that led us to look for Him in the midst of our driven lives.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, our lives are so hectic, so full of demands and responsibilities. And for that, we are blessed, because we are living lives of purpose! But I know how easy it is to get caught up in the snares of purpose and forget to pause and remember why we are doing what we do.

So I invite you afresh today to open your Bible, go to Psalm 3, and practice pausing with me, and with God, as He leads us back into the remembrance of Who He is, Who we are, and what we are to expect as we face our troubles each day.

I pray that practicing pause will become your new normal, not just in your devotional time, but in all of your life. I pray that you and I will learn to be still, take a deep breath, and refocus ourselves on the truths of Who God is, Who we are, and what we have the privilege of expecting from Him in all of our life circumstances.

Autopilot is not a good place to live. All of us need to be interrupted from time to time. Why not open yourself up to be interrupted by the One Who created interruptions to catapult you back into the reality He wrote for your life?

Selah today, dear Sister, and regain your sanity and your soundness of mind. The world is in dire need of women who’ve not lost their heads in the chaos of life. If you’ve gotten a little off-balance in your thinking or in the pursuit of your own agenda, practice pausing long enough to be reminded of the bigger, better picture. Then step back into it with renewed resolve to keep this sacred practice as a regular part of your routine. You – and the world around you – will be better for it!

{Photo images courtesy of}


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