shiver down the spine songs

I was a student, studying for a Law Degree. I had heard from a friend that U2 had a new album out and he was raving about it so I went to a local record shop (there were a lot more of them around then) and bought ‘The Joshua Tree’. I took it back to my room, took it out of the gatefold sleeve (look it up on t’internet younguns) and put it on my turntable. I plugged in my headphones and turned up the volume, lay back and started to listen.

I was not prepared for what happened next. My ears were treated to an amazing blend of harmonies, guitar sounds, rhythms and vocals that sent shivers down my spine (the album still does that to me). The lyrics were completely absorbing and challenging. I found myself melting into the music and wallowing decadently in what became an immersive experience. I appreciate that it won’t be to everyone’s taste but listening to that album still remains a vivid memory for me (as you may be able to tell from the anecdote above). In fact I may well revisit that experience when I have finished this bloggage as I am spending the morning praying, reflecting and reading.

The moment when I was almost moved to tears was when the guitars started gently, the drums and bass came in smoothly and then Bono started singing:

I have climbed highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
I burn like fire
This burning desire

I have spoke with the eternal angels
I have held the hand of the devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

I believe in the Kingdom come
Then all the colours 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
Oh my shame
You know I believe it

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

To me these lyrics represent a journey of faith. I don’t know what the ‘what I’m looking for’ was for Bono, and to be honest I don’t want to know. For me it’s about spiritual dissatisfaction and longing – we haven’t made it yet, we don’t have all the answers, we want more of God. We can look for God in all sorts of places and while we can know the certainty of ‘the Kingdom come’ and of our relationship with him made possible in Jesus: ‘you carried the cross… you know I believe it’, there is always much more for us to discover of God and about ourselves.

The moment we think we have all the answers is the moment when God laughs loudest.

The lyrics could also be reflective of the Lord’s Prayer – praying that God’s Kingdom will come and his will be done on earth now as it is in the heavenly realms. That is not yet a reality: we have not yet seen it completely. There are so many places, people and events in this world that don’t acknowledge God as King (so his Kingdom hasn’t been fulfilled there yet) and we long to see his justice, love, peace and wholeness.

To me this album and that song were eye-openers. God spoke powerfully to me through a song that was unlikely to be sung in church. He spoke gently to me that is all right to be searching – in fact he rather likes it – and that a relationship with him is a lifetime’s work not an exam to be passed. And it is fine to be dissatisfied with the world how it is because he’s not satisfied with it either and he’s inviting us to work with him to help his Kingdom come in the places we live and work and play.

What's the link between this and a pencil? There's a generation growing up who have no idea!

What’s the link between this and a pencil? There’s a generation growing up who have no idea!

Be blessed, be a blessing

have you found what you are looking for?

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I have loved U2 for ages, ever since the Joshua Tree album blew me away with its amazing sound and gospel-esque harmonies (check out ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’, for example). I have been fascinated by the Christian influence in their music and in their passion for justice at all levels of society.

So when I heard that an interview with Bono had been published where he talked about his Christian faith I was very interested. Read extracts from it here.

If you didn’t follow the link please do. It is well worth reading, even if only for his account of what happened when he met the Pope!

Go on, it makes so much sense. It is brilliant to hear someone in the public eye talk so candidly about their faith.

And now you have read it, let me remind you of what I think is one of the most powerful things he said. The interviewer is responding to Bono’s statement about Jesus’ death on the cross:

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched.


Be blessed, be a blessing.