Isaiah is still waxing eloquently about good living and today introduces the concept of Sabbath when moving from “conduct becoming” in relationships to other people to a consideration of duties toward God. (Is 58:9B-14) In our fast-paced and diverse society, there seems to be too much work to do to take a whole day each week for rest and attention to inner work – the traditional meaning of the word Sabbath, at least in the Judeo-Christian understanding. I found an interesting and comforting thought in an alternate translation of the psalm that followed Isaiah’s words, a more personalized possibility of a way to conceptualize a Sabbath. Here is how Psalm 86, named by Lynn Bauman God’s Secret Inner Comfort, speaks to God:
My God, stoop down to me, and putting close your ear, let me speak my poverty, my misery of life to you, and then, I beg you, whisper back your answer clear. I am your faithful servant, and I trust you, Lord, to keep a watchful eye upon my path of life. Treat me with greatest mercy and most tender care, for you, O God, are all I have; there is no one else but you to whom I speak throughout the day. So I lift my soul to you, that you would flood my heart with secret joy. For in your presence goodness flows as constant as a stream, forgiving me. This is the essence of your love for anyone who calls to you. O listen, Lord; I speak these inner words. (vs.1-6)
Having that kind of trusting relationship, I can imagine Sabbath being an every day event. That way of turning to God brings an immediate feeling of rest, like an enfolding hug, so could be instantaneous respite from the work of any day. I think I’ll try it once every little while today, just calling God to “bend an ear to me” that I might feel the closeness and then, the peace of resting in God.