When I was in college, trying to understand this world, I found for the first time in my life a band that really spoke to me—and that band was U2. I assumed that this band had gone somewhat undiscovered. As it turns out, I was late to a packed event. Everyone knew U2. I knew some of their songs, too, but had not listened carefully, until this point.
This happened at an important point in my life. I had begun my journey into studying theology. And this journey, for some odd reason, can prove to be disorienting. I’m convinced that most people’s theological convictions (and yes, everyone has theological convictions) operate at such a basic level, that they do not often even step back to consider them. We take them for granted, much like the air we breathe.
But if you do slow down and look at what your view of God is, you will likely find the experience to be bittersweet—in my experience, I’ve become way less convinced of as many things as I did believe, but for those things that I do believe, I believe in a much deeper, more intense way. In other words, I’m less convinced of the certainty of as many things, but more convinced of the certainty of a few things. Make sense? If not, then I’m accidentally doing a good job of sounding like a theologian!
So this state can be delicate. In my experience, it’s when people get to this state that you see what they are made of. It takes humility to go to and beyond this point. I guess that’s inherent to faith.
When I was at this point, I first listened closely to the album The Joshua Tree. The song that grabbed me initially was “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Lookin’ For.” This song became foundational for my own reflection on God and life before God. The song’s final verse:
I believe in the kingdom come, then all the colors will bleed into one, bleed into one, but yes, I’m still running. You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains, carried the cross of my shame, of my shame, you know I believe it. But I still haven’t found what I’m lookin’ for.
After spending a couple years wrestling with academic topics of theology, in a matter of minutes I was given an additional way to reflect on the matter. This song opened up for me the essence of my own view of God and life before God.
So last night, for the third time in my life, I found myself in the same room as The Edge, Larry, Adam, and Bono. And again, I had to fight back tears as I listened to some of the songs that have meaningfully shaped my view of the world.
If I had to put down into words what I experience, it would be that I’m given a vision of hope and longing. I’m encouraged to see a world that’s moving to that “kingdom come,” where we will walk down those streets with no name. I’m inspired to remember how wonderful this life is. I live in th U.S., a land filled with opportunity. I have a family that supports me, even in my darker moments. To quote Bono from a live version of “City of Blinding Lights”: “Blessings not just for the ones that kneel…luckily. Luckily. We don’t believe in luck! Grace abounds! Grace abounds!”
And while we are at it: I know you might hate U2. That’s OK with me. I don’t. So there.
Here’s me stealing a photo with this amazingly beautiful woman, who happened to be seated next to me: