By Jaime Wallace, art created by Imago Dei women in a project led by Maile Sand.
Early on in my marriage, I snuck around on the Sabbath. I, a grown-up, would sneak out of bed in the morning, trying not to wake my husband. I would crawl into my office, flip open my computer and fill mascara orders. My husband, who was in ministry at the time and is now a pastor, insisted on practicing that weekly day of rest. It was hard. I’m not good at stopping; I find great joy in a lot of work. For a very long time, Sabbath was more struggle than success for me.
There were deeper things at play here than “I just can’t rest from doing my job.” Something needed to be adjusted in my soul. Did I really think someone couldn’t wait 24 hours for mascara? What world was I living in where I was so important? The world can exist eternally without me. It’s existed before me; it will exist after me.
My family and I have now been practicing the Sabbath for about 14 years. It has literally saved my marriage on multiple occasions and continues to save my life in a season of incredible busyness. It has created an intense closeness between our five children and among us as a family. It has taught us provision in times of intense financial stress and to trust God in unthinkable ways.
In a time when we tend to wear our busyness like a great badge, the process and practice of Sabbath puts us in right relationship to God, the people around us and the world around us. This embracing of rest - of living from a place of abundant rest and not from a place of ceaseless striving, anxiety and fear - is a gift from God.
Henri Nouwen, writer and theologian, once wrote: “We do not have to be passive victims of a world that wants to entertain and distract us. We can make decisions and choices. A spiritual life in the midst of our energy-draining society requires us to take conscious steps to safeguard that inner space where we can keep our eyes fixed on the beauty of Christ.”
The biggest question most of us want to know is “How do I do that?” Well, I’m going to disappoint you. How is not the right question. In our pragmatic culture, we want to know how to do everything. There are different “hows” to making the Sabbath a weekly rhythm. My how doesn’t necessarily apply to you. It’s not about a bunch of rules; it’s an invitation. Too infrequently are we asking why, and letting the why inform the how. So if we look to Scripture and find that Sabbath is something we should be practicing, we need to first submit to that. We need to trust God for the how because we believe Him for the why. This is our starting place.
About the Author
Jaime Wallace is Imago Dei's director of early childhood. She and her husband Jonathan have five children (ages 7-12). She believes one of the marvelous mysteries of God is that He invites us to use the brokenness of our stories. She is grateful to get to do that, as countless others have done for her.