One of my favorite Disney movies from recent years is Enchanted, starring Amy Adams as Gizelle. Gizelle literally lived a fairytale life, cartoon form and all, waiting for her Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. But when he finally did, the prince's evil step-mother exiled Gizelle to the real world, depositing her on the cruel streets of New York City. One of the reasons I find the movie so enchanting is that Gizelle, even as she learns lessons about the cruelty of life, continues choosing to have a good attitude. She cleans the apartment of the father and daughter who have taken her in, singing and happily directing the real world animals that have answered her call to clean. She adamantly refuses to accept that true love doesn't exist and wills it into existence. Her attitude infects everyone around her and makes the ordinary tasks of life more enjoyable.
One of the problems Jesus faced with the Pharisees, and that we often face in our churches today, is the number of people who go through the motions but lack any real excitement about their walk with the Lord. Things like going to church, attending a Bible study, or making time to serve our neighbors fail to be things we enjoy and become burdensome duties, taking up time we could be using to do other things. We may go through the motions, but there is no enjoyment, no sense of life.
In Isaiah chapter 58, God was speaking through the prophet, warning His people about the reasons for their current problems. They had been going through the motions of religious life very dutifully, but it affected their day to day walk very little and they were not experiencing God's blessings. So God advised them, "Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don't pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD's holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don't follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!" (Isaiah 58:13-14, NLT). The phrase that jumps out at me? Enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD's holy day.
God commanded his people, not just to keep the Sabbath, but to enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight. Instead of grumbling about the work they were missing out on or the recreational activity they could enjoy instead, God ordered his people to enjoy it and speak of it with delight. Essentially, he was commanding his people to choose to have a good attitude about the Lord's day and God promised that if they would choose a good attitude, if they would choose to speak of it with delight then the Lord would become their delight. Just as we sometimes rekindle "that old fire" with our spouses by choosing to act as if it is already kindled, we can rekindle our love for God and experience delight in God by speaking and acting as if it is already the case.
Is there an area of your walk with God that has become burdensome or dreary? Do you avoid going to church or engaging in "religious activity" because you would just rather spend your time doing other things? Try choosing a good attitude about those activities. Try speaking of the Lord's Day with delight and, like the passage suggests, throwing yourself into it whole-heartedly, setting everything else aside. Choose to act like the Lord is your delight and, soon, you will feel like the Lord is your delight.