Painting by Minerva Teirchart
If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Isaiah 58:13-14
There is an interesting contrast here between pleasure and delight: Pleasure is specifically characterized as man’s pleasure, in some translations as man’s business, and delight is of the Lord and of those who find delight in communing and being one with Him. In Hebrew the word for delight indicates that which is exquisite as well as that which is soft and pliable. To me this softness and pliability can be understood as applying in at least two ways: First, God is soft with His people. He does not coerce, control, or manipulate. He speaks with a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12) and offers the indescribable joy of His association. Second, to commune with Him we too must be soft and pliable, and if we do so with real, heartfelt desire to be one with Him above all other objectives we can receive that which is exquisitely delightful—His spirit and association, to the extent we desire it, in a powerful and transformative manner.
He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. 2 Nephi 4:21
God knows that this is not generally a natural state of desire for His children, so, He leads those who will follow along gradually, again, without coercion, control, or manipulation from one state of desire to the next until by His grace those who choose Him become in the end through a change in nature like Him.
Christ is radical in many ways, some of them small, soft ways. As illustrated in the scriptural account of His life He is never too busy for those in His immediate presence. He does not keep a schedule and makes very few appointments. He does not commit Himself to human designs and institutions because He knew what was in man (John 2:25), and so He always provides a clear choice between the life He lives and offers and that existence offered by corrupt man. He is never in a hurry. He stops by wells and road sides and turns back when a woman touches the border of His garment with faith to be healed. He stops continually in His path to talk with the humblest of people, to bless them with a taste of who He is and the spirit within Him, giving them the opportunity to freely choose, follow, and become one with Him.
One of my favorite stories from the life of Jesus is found in Luke 10:38-42:
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus feet, and heard his word.
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Mary chooses and hears His word—the truth and light that He is from the beginning of creation.
What else is of anything close to the same importance?
Returning to Isaiah 58, and the Sabbath, it is interesting to me that the other major topic in this chapter is fasting, which is often done on the Sabbath, and which has the same primary purpose as the Sabbath—to turn from the things of the world and choose that one thing Mary chooses, to commune and be one with God. Choosing as Mary chooses we can delight ourselves in the Lord, and He will cause us to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father, this phrase communicating transcendence from the world and feeding upon Christ, the bread of life.
There is nothing more important to me than my knowledge of Jesus Christ and the unfailing goodness, strength, light, and perfection that He is. I am nothing without Him, and He is everything to me.