The month of July ended in Juarez with 291 murders, adding to the already 1400 individuals who had lost their lives in 2010 in the drug cartel turf war that is ravaging the city. In this same month, an Ace Hoops team of 11 was welcomed into the city the same weekend that saw the highest murder toll in city history: 45 murders Friday-Sunday. (To even try and put this in perspective: more homicides occurred over this weekend in Juarez, than the combined Minneapolis/St. Paul homicide count of 2009.)

We [Americans] can’t wrap our heads around this. How could we? We travel and go about our business and our busyness with no sense of danger or threat or insecurity, with no fear of drive by shootings or kidnappings or car bombs.

In the Twin Cities, while these tragedies happen–like the 12-year old shot in the neck this past week in Minneapolis and most likely paralyzed from the waist down–they are exceptions. They do not typify the culture and climate of our city–as is the case in Juarez–and they certainly do not hinder our hectic and hurried lifestyles.

Life goes on…and so we better get on the move, or we’ll lose pace….respect, popularity, money, success or that oh-so-desirable IPAD….

Ever since an Ace Hoops friend, Joel, was kidnapped in Juarez, it’s got me to thinking. And to not be misunderstood, hear me loud and clear: I am jealous of them. In many respects, I want what they have and what I do not. I find myself desiring–to a degree–the culture and climate of their city.

The idea of Sabbath is a vanishing act in the States. Take time out of my week to rest? An entire day?? You’re crazy!! Impossible and not happening. And it scares me because while some things some may argue are ambiguous within the Bible, the Scriptural mandate on the Sabbath is quite clear: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

And I, for one, can’t say that I do a very good job of keeping it holy, sacred and separate. And the reason, for me and I would argue for most in this country, is simple: (1) we’re too busy. We’re too “driven” to achieve the American dream–whatever that is–and that slowing up means getting passed and getting passed means losing and American’s hate losing….and (2) because we’re too comfortable. Life is too safe and too good, so what need do we have for a Sabbath?

But our “reality” isn’t the reality of most around the world, and certainly not most everybody in Juarez. What makes me jealous is the reality that Juarez is a city that will bring you to your knees. It will strip your every ounce of pride and destroy your sense control, your security and comfortability, leaving you with nothing. No where to go, no where to turn, no place of refuge or rest, no place but “Emmanuel, God with us.”

It is a culture and a climate that desperately seeks Sabbath….

I want that. I want my life and my family and my friends and my church and my country to desperately seek Sabbath also.

Unfortunately, the blame game won’t cut it. Blaming our Sabbath-resistent-tendencies on the fact that our city is blessed with freedom and safety won’t be good enough. As a recent, well-phrased, series at my church puts it, desire to be wrecked, for good. Thank God for our city, but don’t let the city blind you to see God’s desires for you.  Find time this weekend for Sabbath. Seek God, seek His presence and His refuge and His rest, not because it is the right thing to do, but because it’s the only natural response for a heart who truly seeks after Him.