If you call the sabbath a delight, and the LORD’s holy day honorable; If you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice.
Then you shall delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth...
"My way doesn't work for me!" What a surprise that is, especially to the one who crooned with Frank Sinatra, "I did it my way."
As usual, the King James Version says it best:
...not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD... (Isaiah 58:14)Lent is that season when we consider the Lord's ways and the possibility -- as unlikely as it might seem -- that I may be wrong.
Philosopher John Macmurray described the critical moment when the infant realizes there are other sentient beings in the universe. First they discover they cannot have what they want when they want it in the manner they want it; and that others are making decisions that affect them intimately and personally. They are fed, clothed, sheltered, and comforted by others and cannot provide these things for themselves. That is, perhaps, too obvious to the infant.
But when they realize, "OMG! What I wanted was not best for me, and this Big Person knew that when I didn't!" -- that is an Awakening Moment.
If the child is then willing to work in partnership with the Other -- providing that the Other is also wise enough to recognize the child's integrity as An Other -- they develop that amazing, graceful ability to work with others, to play on the same team and achieve shared and meaningful goals.
When I was a pastor and more familiar with children, I knew some who could fairly leap onto my hip as I lifted them. They seemed to weigh nothing. Other children lacked that ability; they were hoisted onto my hip like a sack of potatoes. Injuries could follow!
Faith begins when we realize that God is also wiser than me, and wiser than all of us! There is, in fact, a God who is not a figment of our projected imagination. A God whom we did not create because we can't explain everything. This is not the scientist's "God of the Gaps," nor even a God of Wonders who explains my experience of awe.
No, this is the God who gives us the Holy Spirit who recognizes Jesus as the Son of God the Father. As Saint Paul carefully explained in 1 Corinthians 3:
Now in regard to spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. You know how, when you were pagans, you were constantly attracted and led away to mute idols. Therefore, I tell you that nobody speaking by the spirit of God says, “Jesus be accursed.” And no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the holy Spirit.This Spirit spoke to Simeon in the temple and John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The old man took the Baby in his arms and said,
"Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation....And the Baptist declared:
I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit. Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”Someone once asked me, "How does Christianity compare to other religions?" "There is no comparison!" I said.
If other religions suppose there should be a god somewhere, that's fine for them. But Christians celebrate the Lord who reveals his Otherness to us, and will not allow us to compare him to other gods.
See now that I, I alone, am he,and there is no god besides me.It is I who bring both death and life,I who inflict wounds and heal them,and from my hand no one can deliver. Deuteronomy 32:39
During Lent we ask the Lord to give us that Spirit, and to make us more willing to be guided by the Spirit. My way doesn't work for me. I tried it and it failed me. I cannot trust my own impulses and desires. My emotions are suspect. Even rationality -- the god revered by the French Revolution -- often fails me.