Learning to pause

Learning to pause

Without checking your calendar, take a moment to guess what day it is. If you have no idea, you are not alone. In recent years, this question seems to have become more difficult to answer! Technological advancements in recent times have caused one day to fade into the next, leading us on an endless continuum of time which many describe (in Singlish) as “no day, no night”.

As children of God living in these times, how do we resist living at such a frenetic pace? First, let us recognise that God does call his people to rest, pause, and be still before Him (Ex 20:8-11, Psa 46:10, Mk 6:31). This may be counter-cultural, but the command is timeless—we were created to have regular periods of rest; and it is when we rest that we can truly listen to what God has to say to us.

What did we learn during our moments of pausing, and did we hear God speak to us? Hymn writer Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has poetically penned down some important spiritual lessons that have emerged from the pandemic.

What do we value, and what truly has worth? (Stanza 1) What is community and why is it important? (Stanza 2)

Are we truly independent, or more dependent on others than we realise? (Stanza 3)

Injustice and inequality are real; what are we to do about it? (Stanza 4)

Which kingdom are we working for? (Stanza 5)

God desires to speak to us, but do we pause often enough, or long enough, to listen to him? May he grant us the wisdom to strike a wise balance between work and rest!

O God, As We Pause

Tune: Traditional Welsh hymn, in John Robert’s Caniadau y Cyssegr (Songs of the Sanctuary), 1839 (“Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”)

Text: Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

O God, as we pause
from our usual ways,
as millions stay home,
as we count passing days,
may we learn what matters —
what really has worth.
May we seek your reign
as we live here on earth.

May we find your blessings
in small, common things;
may we learn the joy
that community brings.
In loving our neighbors,
in stopping to pray,
may we know your presence
in each passing day.

God, may we reflect on
a world that has changed —
a world where our values
have been rearranged.
For those who once thought
they could stand by themselves
now value the workers
who restock the shelves.

As greed and injustice
are being laid bare,
may we build a nation
that’s loving and fair.
God, give us the courage
to change what we can,
to work for the justice
that’s part of your plan.

So, turn us around, Lord,
to make your world new;
May we seek, in all things,
to first follow you.
In change and in sorrow
may we seek your reign.
O God, in our pausing,
restore us again!

From https://www.carolynshymns.com/o_god_as_we_pause.html

Amelia Leo is a Programmes Executive at the Worship & Church Music Department of the Methodist School of Music.