A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I decided we could no longer contain the transcendent glory of the hit show Keeping Up with the Kardashians (because, you know, nothing can make you ponder the mysteries of the universe like Khloe, Kim and Kourtney). So, we did what lesser beings do, we settled for something down-to-earth. This is where we stumbled on National Geographic’s The Great Migrations Series, specifically the episode entitled Born to Move.
Through amazing video footage and well-written narration, Born to Move catalogs the migratory patterns of four different animals as they move against insurmountable odds, taking these amazing journeys. They catalog, for example, the voyage of the monarch butterfly which migrates from Canada to Mexico, a journey that takes four generations to complete.
As the episode comes to a close, the narrator says something that connects to me in a visceral way, and I start pushing back some tears. My wife spots this and laughs. Who cries to Nat Geo?! In my defense, it was in slow motion, the background music dramatic. And come on, the guy had a British accent! I didn’t stand a chance.
He said something to the effect that each of these creatures are able to make the connection that life is dependent on motion.
In other words,
They move, because they will to live.
It could be said that the scriptures are a compilation of stories featuring great journeys. A specific one that comes to mind is found early on as God comes to a man named Abraham. God invites Abraham to move. Abe is not given directions where to go other than a vague to the land I will show you”. There is a sense that as long as Abraham is willing to take a step, God is willing to guide him. Abraham decides to take that step of faith, and thousands of years later, three of the world’s major religions claim him to be their father.
And here’s the thing about his story: Abraham never found what he was looking for. It seemed that he was looking for something this world couldn’t deliver.
In 1987, U2, one of the greatest rock bands of all time, released their second single from The Joshua Tree album entitled I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. The record was such major success that the band landed the cover of Time magazine.
Here is how the song unfolds:
They talk about climbing highest mountains, running through fields, crawling, scaling walls, kissing honey lips and the feel of healing found in her finger tips, burning like fire, speaking in tongues of angels, holding hands of devils…
And yet, after all that, he makes this pronouncement:
I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
Then he gets to the God part:
I believe in the Kingdom Come
When 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
Oh my shame
You know I believe it
Here is where everyone holds their breath, because what we are hoping for is a change of chorus. We’re hoping to hear, that now that he’s had some contact with God, “I now have finally found what I’m looking for!” But he doesn’t go there. He stays with the same line as always,
I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
What a letdown! A waste of a potentially great song! I thought back then. When he finds Jesus, he is supposed to have found what is was looking for—at least, that is what we’re told (on the side, I’ve actually been to huge Christian concerts where the bands changed the lyrics of the chorus to bring it in line with how we market Jesus).
Steve Stockman, a Presbyterian minister who catalogs the spiritual journey of U2, lets us know where our disappointment is coming from:
There seems to be a belief that when someone makes the initial connection with Jesus Christ, he has arrived. Immediately a watertight box of solutions is handed to him, there are no more questions that need to be asked. Jesus is the answer! There is nothing left to search for.
It’s been 24 years now since I gave my life to Jesus, and I have to admit, my life is still full of longing. As a matter of fact, if anything, it feels like Jesus ruined me. There seems to be a greater awareness of the abyss that lives inside of me. There is a sense that if I hadn’t met Jesus, I would have been able to superficially fill the void in me. At least muster enough delusion to carry me through. But meeting Jesus has not allowed that.
But then again, maybe—just maybe—that’s what Jesus is supposed to do. Maybe He’s supposed to connect us to how vast our soul really is. Ironically, Bono dubs the song itself as “a gospel song for the restless spirit.”
Maybe the reality of following Jesus is not an arrival,
but the beginning of a journey.
Maybe we are not supposed find what we are looking for. Maybe we are to be like Father Abraham who just took a step, and another, and another, and another, trusting the voice that had called him to move in the first place. Abraham started out looking for a place, but ended up finding something more valuable. He became someone—he was known as the friend of God.
Perhaps it’s the same for us. Maybe we’re supposed to take one step after another. And in our seeking, we would discover the grace, the love, the wisdom, the creativity of the beauty of God and be enthralled at the fact that whatever it is you find, there is more! It’s wider, stronger, higher, deeper than what we can imagine, and therefore should propel us to keep on moving.
There is a connection between motion and life.
When we stop seeking, we have abdicated living.
We were born to move.