I have a pretty eclectic set of tastes in music. I am not much for jazz or metal or grunge or hip hop, but my music collection runs the gamut of almost everything else.
Today at lunch, in the 98 degree heat, I was doing a two mile walk and listening to my MP3 player. You know how these things work - it is programmed randomly with music from my collection, and I cannot predict what I will hear each time I turn it on. At my pace, a two mile walk allows for about eight songs. I started off country, with Tanya Tucker's "Down to My Last Teardrop." Next was John Denver's "Poems, Prayers, and Promises" and then Styx performing "Fooling Yourself." I went back to the sixties with Coven's "One Tin Soldier" and then started moving forward in time, if only slightly, with America's "Horse with no Name." Then came Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band singing "Against the Wind."
By this time, I had gone about a mile and a half, and the temperature was up to 101. My mind was not experiencing endorphins ... only heat. I was ready to be done. At that moment, U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" randomly appeared as the next song in the playlist. Now, I love this song. I have written about it before on this blog. But today, I was troubled by it. It is Bono's searching voice that cries out through these lyrics: "You broke the bonds and you loosened the chains... carried the cross of all my shame, all my shame. You know I believe it. But I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
Maybe it was the heat, but I was struck with a troubling sadness. How many are there out there who "believe" in some intellectual sense but have not found what they need in spite of that belief? What is the difference between "belief" and "faith". What did Jesus mean when he told us to "believe in" Him. Why hasn't the singer of the U2 lyric found what he is looking for?
Before you think that I have lost my mind, rest assured that I do have some answers for those questions. I do not promise that they are satisfying answers to everyone, but in the peace and quiet of my study, I can work through them. In the heat of the day and the walk, however, I was not answering. I was just troubled.
About that point, I hit the 1.75 mile marker, and the last of the songs I would hear today came on. It was Jessica Lofbomm's "In the Morning." If you don't know Jessica and her music, you can learn more here.
Anyway, Jessica is one of my dearest friends, a virtual family member, going back to her days as Gena's and my "adopted college student" when she first moved to Nashville. She lives on the other side of the world now, so we do not see her often. But today, of all days, my little portable music box sent me Jessica's clear, strong, faithful voice just when I needed to hear a clear, strong, faithful voice. In my troubled response to Bono, I heard Jessica's "Alleluia" pour through. "In the Morning" is a relatively simple song - its message includes the same kind of uncertainty about faith as does the U2 classic. Jessica sings "Jesus, I am sorry, I have fallen asleep. Why are you giving your life for me?"
The difference is not in the questions, for we all have questions. We all face uncertainty. We all walk through the heat.
The difference is in the response. We can say "I believe but I have not found", or we can say "Why? ... Alleluia." That was what I needed today. Today, I do not so much need to be reminded of the factual details that I am supposed to believe. Today, I do not need to address every question, to psychoanalyze Jesus to find out why He did and does everything He did and does.
No, today I just need to hear a faithful sister sing "Alleluia" even though she has questions and uncertainties and heat to walk through. I can face the questions posed by Bono when I know the faith sung by Jessica is always right behind.