Selah: and the close of the Summer

The summer is drawing to a close and students are already beginning to return to Asbury to start the Fall semester. I hope those reading this blog found time for rest and renewal this summer. Earlier this summer, I took a week just to do some physical labor around the house. I know, for many, the ultimate vacation translates into a cruise through the Bahamas. For me, a vacation is swinging a hammer.  It is amazing how renewing it is to build something, or bring some project to a close. This last week I took an entire week just to think. I know that may sound a bit bizarre in today’s world. Julie (my wife) and I headed up to Massachusetts and spent a week just thinking. I read quite a bit, and I did get some writing done, but I also just spent time thinking. Spending time thinking and reflecting is one of the most valuable things in my life. As President of Asbury, my life is filled with meetings, budgets, teaching, preaching and running between gates in airports. My schedule (last I had the courage to look) is booked out about two years in advance. So, it is not always easy to carve out thinking time.

One of my favorite words for “thinking time” or “reflection time” is that word which pops up in the Bible, selah. The word selah occurs throughout the Psalms. The precise meaning of the word selah is unknown, so someday I may find out that my association of the word selah is inaccurate. However, for now, many scholars believe that it signifies some kind of musical pause or interlude. This is precisely what I have in mind. Like any healthy heart, we must have a proper balance between the active pumping of blood (diastolic) and the brief period of rest (systolic) where the blood is being re-oxygenated and prepared to be pumped out in ways that give life and nourishment.  All of us need to find time for rest, for reflection and for a change of pace.  For some, this might be camping in the Ozarks, or scuba diving in the Ocean.  For others, it might mean swinging a hammer or, perhaps, swinging in a hammock. I admit I did climb into a hammock in July on the banks of Lake Hartwell, though it only lasted about five minutes. We all need to discover what it means for us to maintain long-term vitality. We can’t always put our finger on exactly what it looks like for each person. It is a bit like the word selah, in that it is ambiguous and no one knows precisely what it means. But, whatever it is for you, I hope you had a selah this summer, for Fall is coming fast and then…the real fun begins!!