He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. – Psalm 23:2?3 (NIV)
Have you ever noticed the little word Selah that appears frequently in the book of Psalms? Ever wonder what it means? Or maybe, like me, you skip over it. After all, it’s one little word, set apart from the rest of the text. How important could it be?
I never gave Selah much thought, especially after I learned that the word’s meaning is uncertain. Then I got a Kindle for Christmas and downloaded the Amplified Bible, which explains the meanings of words as they were understood in their original language. When I came across the word Selah, the explanation inside the brackets read “pause, and calmly think of that!”
That was something I knew I should do—and often tried to do—but was usually in a hurry to get my daily devotions done so I could plunge into my full schedule.
Then on June 6 I had surgery to repair three herniated neck disks. I prepared myself as best as I could. I walked daily to build up my stamina, got my reading stash in order, submitted my June columns and radio programs ahead of time, and cleared my summer schedule. I had no idea how long recovery would take. One lady who’d had the same operation told me she was back to work three and a half weeks after the surgery. Others also told me they rebounded within weeks.
The surgery was successful. I’ve had no pain—at all. After seven months of sometimes debilitating pain, that alone is enough to make me want to plunge right back into a full schedule. But I was given strict restrictions: no BLTS—no bending, lifting, twisting, or sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time—I wasn’t allowed to do anything but rest until my follow-up appointment two weeks after I was discharged. “If you’re not bored,” I was told, “you’re doing something wrong.”
I wanted to get my life back, so I adhered to the doctor’s orders—and found that I enjoyed the down time. Rather than be bored, I was relaxed. I even let the reading stack go. Naps were more important.
By the day of my follow-up appointment, though, I knew I still wouldn’t be running any marathons. As I viewed the X-rays in the doctor’s office, I counted eight screws holding the plate in place in my neck. I literally have my head screwed on, I thought. So I wasn’t surprised when the doctor told me I would trade the hard cervical collar for a soft one—which I’ll wear for six weeks “because you had multiple layers (more than one disk) done.”
I’m gradually increasing my activity—walking short distances every other day, resting when I feel tired, working at the computer until my shoulders tell me “enough!” And today I’ll drive for the first time in a month. But for the rest of the summer I’ll take it easy—take the time to Selah and not feel guilty.
Selah—such a little word. How important can it be?
Sometimes, Lord, You have to stop me in my tracks to get me to slow down and Selah. Remind me not to skip over it again. Amen.