Selah Sabbath Sabbatical

At a family conference that I attended early this year, one of the speakers emphasized the importance of rest. He divided the art of resting into three different "S" words.

1. Selah - When you read through the book of Psalms, the word selah is used 71 times. The exact meaning of the word is difficult to translate but most Hebrew scholars recognize it as a break in music. Much like we use rests in musical notation, Selah was a way for the authors of Psalms to tell the readers to stop and listen - to take a break. To employ Selah in the modern life is to take a break from whatever occupies your time. A five minute day dream. A smoke break at work. A time out. A brief moment to catch your breath.

2. Sabbath - This is the day of rest. It is Jewish law, a part of the ten commandments: to honor the sabbath and keep it holy. It was a tradition adopted by the early Christian church. The author of the book of Hebrews reminds readers that there is a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. The concept of a full day of rest has fallen out of favor in modern times as the American workaholic ideals has infected the church. Yet, a day to do nothing is essential - even for those that don't believe in God. Tireless work without a day off is bad for your health. However, for me, it is in the spirit of Hebrews chapter 4 that I am making every effort to enter that rest.

3. Sabbatical - Opposed to a single day of rest, sabbaticals are a prolonged rest. Employers refer to it with varied vocabulary. Vacation. Personal leave of absence. Paid time off. It is a ceasing of all labor. For a few days. A week. A month. A year. In Jewish tradition, people would work a seven year cycle in their fields. They would sow and reap their crops for six years then in the sevenht year - sheviit - they would let their land grow without any agricultural effort. Any fruits that grew naturally during sheviit where available to be picked by anyone. It was a year for the lands to rest as well as a year for the farmers to rest.

Since that conference, those three words have been camping out in my psyche. Selah, Sabbath, Sabbatical. The importance of rest has weighed heavy on my heart. I've mentioned before how I'm taking steps to make Sundays my do-nothing day, my day of rest. My emotional health needs it. Going forward, you may see posts here to honor Selah, a moment to stop and rest. Sabbatical... well, that might be harder to accomplish.

But let me encourage you to rest. Whether you're taking a brief mental vacation to go to your happy place, or embarking on an actual vacation to the Bahamas, rest. Stop and breathe.

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