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

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 always found U2’s music powerful. They remain, after many years and many evolutions of style, one of my all-time favourite bands. They write powerful lyrics, coupled with catchy tunes and innovative styles. There are layers of detail and meaning that encourage repeated listening and rediscovery over years. But, for me, the most powerful of all their songs is the one above.

This is a song of my life. I remember the thrill of first discovering it – the deep lyric, the soaring guitar… I remember singing it as a worship song in a youth-led church service. I remember discovering nuances in the song, as failed relationships and questions of theology and praxis changed my personal landscape of faith. This song has stayed with me over the years. The song has not changed, but the nuances and layers of meaning have been enough to accommodate changes within me. Even now, it resounds within me like few other creative expressions do.

This is a song about Faith. It is about searching for meaning. Meaning in the world as it is, and meaning in your own life, placed within that world.

Back in that church service years ago, there was controversy as the guy leading changed the last line (to “I have finally found what I’m looking for”). He missed the point. There is no lovey-dovey moment of harmony or oneness in a journey of faith. Even if you meet God, you are not satisfied. Not in this life, certainly.

Even at my most faith-filled, bible-believing christianness, I was never satisfied. I don’t believe I have ever met a satisfied Christian. It is simply that the messiness and complexity of the world is never resolved, so there is always a desire for something else, something more. If you believe god heals the sick, then you desire for more healing; if you believe he cares about starving children, then you desire for the hungry to be fed. If you believe that god loves you, then you desire for a (greater, more tangible) experience of that love.

I have climbed mountains, wrestled devils and touched angels. I have had peaks of ecstasy and enlightenment and deep, deep trenches of despair. I was never satisfied. Worse, my journey of faith led me eventually to crushing disappointment, and now barely any faith at all…

Yet still this song resonates. I am still trying to make sense of the world. I am still wrestling with sickness, hunger, evil, purpose, desire, loneliness… I am still trying to find my place in the world.

I may doubt christianity. I may doubt the different stories I have heard to explain the world we live in. But I still feel the need to find one.

I still haven’t found what I am looking for

[For those who are interested, the best version of this song is the one with the gospel choir on Rattle and Hum. Spotify link here.]

5 thoughts on “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

  1. That’s a truly awesome version, love it! (Highlight of the week – restoration of Spotify at work!)

    But…do we ever find what we’re looking for? Is the whole purpose of life the quest for something? Would finding IT suddenly make life meaningless? Will we only find it in the afterlife?

      • Is the afterlife meant to have meaning?
        Perhaps discovering the Meaning of Life instantly transports us to nirvana – something that can only be truly experienced in the afterlife where perfection is possible and we will no longer care about looking for anything, simply living (or not living, as it’s the afterlife) in the moment?

        [Is it wrong to answer a question with two further questions?]

  2. shelterandshade says:

    Preach it, Bono.

    As good ‘ol Francis Schaeffer said, we are glorious, and we are ruined. Glorious ruins. So the search continues, and will continue…

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