The Practice of Pause

“When he mustered them at Bezek, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand… And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together… Saul said, ‘Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.’ Then Samuel said to the people, ‘Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.’ So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.” 1 Samuel 11:8,11,13-15

All in a day’s work. The newly-anointed King Saul was confronted with Ammonites who would agree to a treaty only on the condition that they gouge out all Israel’s right eyes. Ouch. By God’s Spirit, Saul strategized, prepared, and led the people, over hours as the sun blazed hot, and with much bloodshed, to a remarkable victory. But the day was not done. Immediately, taking no selfish credit, and no bitter revenge on nay-sayers, he directed God’s people to keep moving, however weary, south to Gilgal to renew their covenant and offer sacrifices to the LORD Who had given the triumph. Here, early in his reign, his kingly priority was to pause and rejoice.

Peaceful Gulf behind sea grapes

Is this my practice? When I have triumphed over temptation, or impatience, or despair, do I turn my thoughts to my Deliverer and give thanks? Upon completing a large or weighty task, do I simply rest, or renew myself in God? In the heat of my days, in the midst of challenges with health or finances or personalities or hurtful choices of those for whom I am responsible, do I pause, set my thoughts aright, and praise? In weariness, during a long obedience, will I take time to stop, breathe, and offer myself once again to the Lord of my everything?

There is great benefit to practicing pause before the LORD, and it is always good to give thanks and renew our commitment, our love, our allegiance to Him. When we keep coming back to plumb, when we realign our straying affections or pride to be fixed on Him, we more readily stay in the flow of His will.

“Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.”  ~William Longstaff (1882)

Good Master, keep my stride in step with Yours. May I often pause to remember You, to offer myself anew, to give You the honor due Your glorious name. (Psalm 96:3,6-9)



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