Lately I have been thinking a lot about “the pause.” Our church has been doing a series on the elimination of hurry in our lives and it is a big challenge in our society to even take time to rest or pause in our lives.
In music the pause is the place where there is a brief rest, a place to savor what is happening in the music before rushing in to the next notes. When you are in an argument the pause may be where the people arguing realize they need to take a break and calm down before continuing. The pause can give you time to think about what is happening and where you need to go. Sometimes the pause is when you are lost and do not know the correct direction to go in now. The pause helps you with a roadmap or recalibration on Google maps to find the correct next steps.
Sometimes the pause is actually something like menopause. As a woman, I can attest to the fact that this is a significant pause. It indicates the end of one era of life and the beginning of another (while dealing with the side effects and hot flashes that accompany it!).
Sometimes the pause is voluntary, such as a retirement or a change in your job. But sometimes it is involuntary; maybe it is an illness or a layoff. But the fact is that when “the pause” happens, it usually happens for a reason.
In 2009 I was laid off from a job I enjoyed and this put my life on pause while I tried to figure out where I was going next. A few months after the layoff, my husband passed away. As I look back on that period of time, I realize that God’s hands were all over my circumstances. I would never have been able to spend as much quality time with my spouse before his death if I had been working. And while his death caught us all by surprise, I don’t think it caught God by surprise. In his graciousness I was able to savor the last few months I had with my husband because I was in the pause.
Most of us find times in our lives where we either have a voluntary pause or we have an enforced pause. We were not created to hurry through this life with the mentality of more, more, more. Instead, we should look at the life of Jesus. What he accomplished in the last three years of his life is absolutely amazing (and we were allowed only a glimpse of it–the rest of it would have filled books). But even Jesus Christ took time to pause. Many times he would go out early in the morning and pray. Sometimes he would go in a boat (and even sleep through a storm) to obtain his pause. Frequently he talked about pausing and spending time with the Father.
In John 4 we see Jesus pause for a rest. “So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from his journey, sat down at the well. It was about noon” (John 4:5-6). Jesus paused. Sometimes the pause allows something to follow that can be life-changing, as it was in the case of the woman at the well.
In John 11 we see that Jesus paused before going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He delayed going to Lazarus when he was told he was ill. When he finally left and went to Jericho, Lazarus was already dead. But we find that it is in the pause that faith happens. And when that pause ends, frequently miracles happen. We see that when Lazarus was raised.
So I would encourage you to savor the pause when it occurs in your life–whether voluntary or enforced. Occasionally we need to make room for the pause by eliminating something from our to-do list. Because it is in the pause that Christ can do some powerful work. It is in the pause that we can slow down enough to spend more time with our heavenly Father. It is through the pause that we can hear God’s voice more clearly.
It is interesting that just today I read about Elijah, who was feeling like he was the only one left to stand up for God (1 Kings 19). His life had been threatened and he was on the run from Jezebel. God appeared to him. But it wasn’t through the winds, the earthquakes, or the fires that he appeared. It was through a quiet whisper. How can we hear God when we are in the midst of busyness and chaos? It is through the quiet that we can hear his whisper the most. So embrace the pause and take the opportunity to hear God’s whisper to you.