Stop, Sit, Stay, Selah…
Walking up the stairs in our house a couple of nights ago, it felt as if a heavy blanket had fallen out of the ceiling, landing square on my shoulders. Winded, my heart rate increased while I struggled up the steps. Woven with familiar loud patterned words of insecurities, the blanket induced instant anxiety. Words questioned my intelligence, words berated decisions past, present, and hinted to eventual future failings. Within the blanket were thought strings of letting others down, of the world darkening, suggestions of returning to a cave of sheets and pillows to hide from the torment. By the time I neared the top of the stairs, Defeat attempted to crush me with absolute precision, extinguishing Hope.
Then God spoke.
Now, I am not crazy, at least I don’t think I am, and if I am…“Boom boom, ain’t it great to be crazy?”(sorry, childhood song flashback). Some assume those who claim “God spoke to me,” have varying opinions about mental stability as well as lists of opinions regarding ulterior motives. I can be in that judgmental camp at times too, until I take time to compare claim to the nature of God through the lens of scripture.
But for sure, God does speak be it in visions, dreams, “coincidences”, or sometimes his voice is completely audible. God speaking to us is recorded several times in the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. He is the Living God! How can he be expected to be quiet if he wants to lead us, guide us, love us, comfort us? But to be frank, it can be difficult to decipher when messages are from God or from our own loud unending distractible thoughts. (Or even if we have crossed over into “crazy.”)
In The Moment
In this moment at the top of the stairs, God spoke in a picture which exploded across my mind. It was of a woman; maybe Mary, of Martha and Mary fame written of in Luke 10:38-42. Or maybe she was the “sinful woman” written in Luke 7:37-50. Or maybe it was an unnamed female disciple. Whoever she was, a young lady was seated at the feet of Jesus with the aforementioned blanket spread around her as if it were part of her 1st century dress. She looked up wide eyed at Jesus, leaning into every word, hanging on every parable illustrated with such detail. She was rapt with His presence, taking it all in, committing His word to memory.
From this intense vibrant image, God spoke of stopping, of sitting, of staying, and of selah.
“Stop, Sit, Stay, Selah”
The words of insecurity, worry, regret, panic; these all can come from years of habitual berating of oneself. True, they can also be the Enemy whispering taunts in our ear, but they are words that have sunk down deep into the memory folds of our brain. It’s kind of like dust under the rug; its not gone, just hiding until it is kicked loose, billowing into the air and falling upon our shoulders. The first step to slow down the anxious thoughts is to stop giving the brain airtime. Stop talking. Stop the reader board of destructive self talk. Not easy for sure, but completely necessary to STOP.
“Stop, Sit, Stay, Selah”
It has been reported by a few friends, when an anxiety attack happens they are in a posture of standing, walking, or moving in various environments. From shopping at Walmart, to doing dishes in their own home, to apparently, simply walking up the stairs. The woman at Jesus’ feet speaks to a humble action of sitting; rest of the physical body. In the image, the woman was not in motion.
“Stop, Sit, Stay, Selah”
Distraction is all around us. We may be motionless and yet disrupted by sound, light, pings, dings, and rings; absent to the present, preoccupied by an increasing noisy world. The woman stays at Jesus’ feet. She stays, leaning in to His every word. She is taking in everything He says. In contrast, she is not distracted by picking up her cell phone to check the screen, she doesn’t get up to get another cup of coffee, she doesn’t look out the window lost in daydream as the Teacher drolls on and on. She intentionally stays present, focused on Jesus.
The definition of “selah” is fascinating. “Selah” is mentioned 74 times in the Bible; 71 in Psalms and 3 times in the book of Habakkuk. While Selah has much mention, but it does not have an actual definition. Some scholars think it means to stop and listen while others point to a musical term directing a rest or interlude in a musical composition. Wikipedia notes other interpretations such as a “paragraph break”, “amen”, “so be it”, or “forever”. (Wikipedia Selah) On the website “Got Questions” they ponder if selah is the derivative of s_lah which means “to praise”, or s_lal “to lift up” (gotquestions.org).
With all of these speculative definitions, each is a shadow of resting, listening, taking a breath, and exalting. I can imagine the woman in the vision to be doing all of these just by the look on her face, she exudes selah.
As the seated woman flashed across my mind at the top of the stairs, God’s wordless picture worth a thousand words, the weighted blanket instantly left my shoulders. My mind stopped rambling. Physically I sat, well no..I knelt with my face pressed into the carpet. Staying with the image before my eyes, committing every detail to memory, I stayed. Selah was not the word used, but for certain God was exalted, praised, thanked profusely for the gift of guiding this lost sinner back to sit at his feet with the blanket woven with worries, troubles, anger, stress, anxiety; all of it set before Him.
“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; Selah
God sends his love and his faithfulness” (Palm 57:1-2).
Can your recall or relate to an overwhelming blanket moment?
Have you ever felt the calm reassurance of God’s presence wash over you in one of those moments ?
When you hear the words Stop, Sit, Stay, Selah how do you see each of these actions helping you to focus on God?