I heard an interview with author Judith Shulevitz on npr’s “Fresh Air” about her book, “The Sabbath World.” I haven’t read it yet, but it’s next up .
Shelevitz was raised Jewish and is married to a Jewish man, but she states that she does not believe in God. Nevertheless, she does observe the Sabbath. And she loves it.
Much of the praise for this book comes from critics who confess to a secular view of the world. Even the product description reads, “Everyone curls up inside a Sabbath at some point or other. Religion need not be involved.”
Puzzling, huh? Not as much as you might think.
The Sabbath is intoxicating. Once you start, you can’t stop. Even if you don’t believe in the God who ordained it.
Now, I do believe, but sometimes I find the practice easier than the belief. Usually, the practice strengthens the belief, but sometimes — so help me, God — it stands in the place of belief.
Rather than beat myself (or Judith) over this paradox, I will simply marvel at a God who gave a command that can be so easily abused. Like freewill, the Sabbath is a gift that can draw us to our Creator, or away from Him. He is extravagant! He hands us a massive inheritance and tells us, “Enjoy!” while knowing full well that we might squander the entire thing on wanton living and end up eating pig slop.
As Tim Keller would say, what a prodigal God!