You take me higher up Your mountain
And carve deeper into my soul
You show me wonders so beautiful
You unearth the buried things in me
I am more and more a stranger
A pilgrim in a foreign land
I do not desire what this world desires
I do not praise what they praise
And I am disdained for the difference
Mocked for the strangeness of conviction
Every failure is highlighted
My steps in full spotlight
Let them condemn for I have sinned
Let them gnash for I have failed
Let them walk away from my repugnance
Let them lay their convictions
I know, and I see, that my Savior comes
My defender is my redeemer
My lover is my avenger
You protect those who call Your name
You shelter those who accept Your embrace
I will be patient and wait for Your deliverance
I will not settle for less than You
Though I walk hungry today
I take pleasure in the expectation of Your feast
Though I fight alone today
I find joy in taking on Your standard
To wait for You is beautiful to me
To put all my hopes in You secures me
Though I sink lower in honour in this world
I find fulness of joy with You on Your mountain
You take me higher up Your mountain
I had not felt it for a while, His pleasure I mean. I felt my own, I felt the recognition, the admiration of others, but true pleasure, to feel that someone is utterly, completely pleased with me was elusive.
I stopped feeling His pleasure when I made Him a means to pleasure and fulfillment. When figuring out His principles to arrive at my dream place and position was more important that seeing Him, the person of Christ.
Most guilty am I of doing this to my relationship with God.
I had demoted Him in my heart.
I desired the blessing, forgot the blesser, and missed the blessing altogether because the blessing is Him.
I desired the promise more than the promise-giver, and let go of the promise anyway when the reality of my doubts proved more convincing, forgetting that He who promised is faithful.
Now, like the day pushing back the night, the dark shroud covering the miracles of my life is removed by the light, revealing the handiwork of providence. As I follow this light to its source, I am more and more blinded by the brightest prisms beaming from the most glorious of grooms.
“Walk down the aisle”, He invites.
Yet I’ve walked this before, as a child, as an adolescent, many times in my young life.
As if hearing my thoughts, I hear Him speak:
“But you have been an unfaithful bride. How many times have you run away and chosen to be pleasured by others? How many times have you rejected my joy to enjoy the compliments of liars and thieves? How many times have you chosen the practical advice of those who cannot save instead of my promises too grand for you?”
In humble admission, in shame, I can only reply, “I cannot deny what You say is true. I have been a fool to exchange the goodness You gave for my pride, fear, and impatience. I am lost. I see I have brought on my own pain. Why then are we here? Is it my punishment to look at Your glory forever and be reminded in every cell of my body that I miss You and no longer have You?”
“Walk down the aisle.” Is His response. “Renew Your vows to me as I have renewed my vows to You.”
And in this cosmic ceremony, as the universe asks this righteous King, “Do You take this harlot to be thy bride?” I hear His most reassuring voice in a two word promise, “I do”.
Sheer pleasure arrives as I hide in His love. Gone forevermore is the sinner. I am embraced as His bride.
I’ve come across this verse numerous times in the past, but it wasn’t after hearing a recorded reading of Isaiah 58 while driving to work did it come alive. That happens a lot, we pass and bypass things, until the moment of revelation when our eyes are opened to see things in a new way. The basic message of this verse, though its emphasis is on fasting, is that God isn’t impressed with the keeping of religious tradition, the saying of sorry, the token interest in Him. He is impressed with a whole life offering of love that is poured out in active service.
Another sobering reminder for me as the first few verses describe me so well: I seek God, seem eager, ask for justice, for God to decide my way, yet live selfishly with me, my needs, my feelings, and my responsibilities at the center.
For 2013, it is one of my many many prayers to live a life of true fasting, a life that is set apart, kept special for the receiving and giving of love.
Again, this is a whole life offering of love that is poured out in active service.
1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.