I’ve recently been drawn to the opening story from the book of Esther. Before Esther is the hero of the story, we get to hear what the original queen, Vashti, was up to. Vashti is perhaps undercelebrated, perhaps because we are not very good at following her example of refusal.
If you haven’t read the opening chapter of Esther recently, here’s a bit of a summary. The king had been hosting an extravagant and lengthy party. Everyone was able to have what they wanted, without limitations. Everyone’s needs were met. Well, almost everyone. Because the queen, Vashti didn’t get what she wanted. The king called upon Vashti to come forth to be admired, to be put on display, and Vashti refused.
The rest of the story continues from there, because it is Vashti’s no that leads to Esther’s heroism. Without Vashti, the whole system would’ve just continued unchallenged.
I keep thinking about Vashti because I so often think about how difficult it is to say no. In this weird, still-pandemic time, many of us are juggling complex demands. We have to continue making difficult decisions about what will keep our communities and families safe. We are dealing with tired and struggling people. We are tired. And yet the demands don’t seem to diminish.
Vashti reminds us that we do not know what will happen if we say no. We do not know how God will use our refusal to create a new way of being. What might change in the world if you say no?
For encouragement and conversations starters of how Sabbath practice helps us say now, check out the free resource The Practice of Sabbath Time in a Pandemic.
by Rachel McDonald