2018 was supposed to be my year of rest. I knew it back in January when I asked Him what my word for the year was. He whispered it urgently, Rest.
Like Sarah of old, I wanted to laugh inside, to hide. Rest? How? But as always, He knows just what we need. And deep inside, deeper than the laughter and the doubt, I knew it was true. Exhaustion had driven me to the point of headaches and little mistakes and once or twice, even feeling unsafe while driving. Running on empty had emptied me.
I wanted to obey, but there were classes I couldn’t cancel, chores and projects I couldn’t postpone, a family I’m very grateful to care for every day. Life doesn’t wait just because we need to rest.
At first, I felt like a failure. I couldn’t do this one thing, this good thing, God had asked of me. But I learned there was one thing I could do. I could schedule one hour of down time each afternoon when homeschool lessons were finished. One hour to do what we love best: reading together.
I thought the reading itself was the answer to the problem (we really, really love to read), but it was much more than that. In the books we read, we met characters who made the answer come to life.
Around our tiny kitchen table, with cups of tea in our hands and coloring pages in front of the toddlers, we stumbled upon a humble Jewish family living in New York’s East Side in the early 1900’s. They lived on a budget, like us. They had busy days with school and work and friends, like us. Most importantly, they wanted to honor the Lord, just like us.
Maybe it’s because my Dad’s side of the family is Jewish. Maybe it’s because of the lineage of grace, the lineage of try and fail and try again. Maybe it’s because our Savior came from this people. For whatever reason, I have always felt a kinship with God’s first chosen people and have always wanted to know more.
So when Sydney Taylor’s All Of A Kind Family showed us how to sabbath, something clicked.
Sabbath was more than a “have-to,” more than a “to-do;” it was a celebration.
That distinction changed everything. I had tried to schedule a day of rest before, but it was never quite as purposeful as Miss Taylor’s beautiful fictional family made it. So, one day, we decided to take a page out of their book.
That day, we watched out our kitchen window as the sun went down. We prepared a special meal, the best meal of the week, just like Mama did in the story. We lit a candle, turned down the lights, and turned off the phone. My babies brought me their plates, lining up to receive their chicken parm and their blessing. We sabbath-ed.
The next day, we let the dishes and the laundry sit a little. We chose activities that were restful, like reading, walking, playing. We waited that night for the first three stars to appear and prayed, May the peace of the Sabbath, though it has ended, carry you through all the week.
Now, it is 2019, and we look forward to our Sabbath dinner every week. I know the planning has been worth it when we’ve kicked off our weekend with love, when the lights are low and the food is warm and the babies are grinning ear to ear, saying, “Bless me, Mama!” like they did last week.
Of course, five minutes later, someone spilled his plate of pasta (the whole plate, upside down, on the floor). Then a puddle of snot ended up on the table because someone else is getting over a cold. Ten minutes after that, the chickens were loose and needed catching. Then, the neighbor was knocking because I had his mail, and a child needed help in the bathroom.
The chaos of life doesn’t stop spinning when we Sabbath. But when we find rest in God, the chaos of our heart does. I know I am needed, but His peace is within me. So, I work a little slower, and He carries me.
Shabbat shalom, a common Jewish greeting on the Sabbath, means “peaceful Sabbath.” It can be peaceful because “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14 NIV). It can be peaceful because He is the One who has provided the sauce that spilled and the children and the chickens and the wonderful, beautiful chaos and everything we have.
I blow out the candle and remember the One who said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).
Not as the world gives.
As I try and fail and try again, Sabbath reminds me of something I think I always knew about rest. Jesus does not give His rest because we’ve earned it, strived for it, or served Him. He gives peace because He is peace. When we Sabbath, when we work, when we’re somewhere in between, Jesus Himself will be our rest, if only we will hush our hearts enough to listen.
The chaos of life doesn’t stop spinning when we Sabbath. But when we find rest in God, the chaos of our heart does. -Laura Costea: Click To Tweet