The Pause Button

In the middle of the movie, my husband reached over and took the remote, which was laying on the other side of me.

“I’m going to go get a snack, be right back!” he said and with one swift move of his thumb, he hit the pause button.

There on the screen was the actress in a cinematic frame of no movement with her mouth hanging open.

Yup, a few years ago, I felt like that actress.  A life with no movement and my mouth open in disbelief.

God had asked me to pause. While the rest of my friends surged forward in ministry, bearing fruit and accomplishing great works for Him, He asked me to screech to a halt.  And my brakes were smoking.

“Are you sure, LORD?  You want me to get out of this leadership position?  Do you know how embarrassing this will be?  What will people think?  Will they think I can’t do it?  Will the naysayers nod their heads and say to themselves, ‘I knew this would happen.’  And, LORD, how can I do nothing for You?”

The more I argued with God in our internal conversations, the more difficult and exhausting the ministry became.  Ignoring the Holy Spirit is one thing ; wrestling with Him is quite another.  I resigned from the leadership position and pulled out of teaching the Bible study I had committed to a couple of months previously.

Sometimes God asks us to do the reverse of what we think He should ask.  Sometimes, in our short-sighted humanity, He asks us to do nothing.

But nothing is always something with God.

One of my favorite Psalms is the 84th.  The sons of Korah wrote this beautiful song.  The Korahite Levites were men who were chosen to be the doorkeepers at the tents of their leaders.  They also stood at the posts of the tent that hosted the very Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of Christ to come.  They were not invited into the tent, but instructed to stand steadfastly outside of it.  Under Moses, these keepers became discontent and revolted.  God not only fired them from their positions, but He also swallowed them up.  Literally.  King David, however, in a move of redemption and restoration, brought them back.  As their jobs evolved through generations, the Korahites became known for standing at the doorposts and singing praises to to God. They not only sang them, but wrote and arranged them as well.

Now I don’t know about you, but if the Lord had asked me to stand outside our church and do nothing else except sing praises to God without asking me to serve in the church, my hurt feelings and pride could have tempted me to said, “Not me.  I was meant for something more.  I am outta here.”

Listen to what the sons of Korah had to say about God’s calling on their tribe.  In verse 10 of Psalm 84, they wrote this:

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

In verse 3, they penned this word painting of their hearts, “Even the sparrow has found a home and the swallow a nest for herself, a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my God and my King.”

To be fixed to the entrance of an altar or tent was to dwell in one of the safest places, a place that backed up to a stronghold of spiritual and physical defense, a place where they waited for the very presence of the Lord Himself.  Servants who purposely cleaved to the doorpost waited there to become a permanent part of the household, having their ears pierced with an awl…wanting to serve that Master for a lifetime.
The courts were a bustling place of readiness and activity, the threshold a place of waiting and listening.     What started out as a place of duty evolved into a place of praise as they were filled to overflowing with joy in obedience to the King, composing poetry at the doorposts for the generations to come.
God’s nothing is always something.
What God knew in his all-seeing wisdom was that I needed to rest next to His heart, to listen, to soak in all of Him in His beauty and glory to prepare for what was to come.  With my family, I climbed through riesling vineyards turning golden in the September sun, hiked mountain-reflecting lakes, and listened to to His stillness.
God taught me again that This One Thing – waiting for His presence with the perfume of gladness – surpassed dwelling in the tents of a discontented and striving heart.
A few short months after God had asked me to pause, my husband and I found ourselves moved to a different ministry that would probably have burned us out, had we not lived in His rest, learning more about His sweetness and character.
O God, may we ask to dwell all our days in your house, to behold Your beauty and to meditate in Your temple, especially when we’re asked to pause for a season.