Tag Archive | encouragement

He Knows Your Name!

The theme song for the award-winning American sit-com, Cheers, goes like this:

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got 
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
 

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came. 

You wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name. 

You wanna go where people know, people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows your name.

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P3050243 (Photo credit: PeraltaC775)

The sentiment echoes a feeling shared by many a newcomer settling in a foreign land, adjusting to new norms and different expectations. But even once settled in familiar surroundings with familiar faces, one might experience a similar wistful longing from time to time.  When those feelings begin to rise, we can be comforted with the assurance that there is one who knows our name. Worshippers throughout time have found much consolation in their beliefs that, not only does God know our name, he also knows our every thought, and he keeps a record of our tears (imagine that!).

We do need a certain degree of faith, especially in the times in which we live, to be persuaded that such notions were not merely thought up by some philosophically astute minds, but inspired by something—someone—far superior. If we doubt at all that there is a God with a keen interest in each of us on a personal level, maybe we can find some confidence in the faith that has sustained others in times past. Then, when we feel lonely or alienated, like a “fish out of water”, unsure of ourselves because suddenly the rules of the game have changed and we now find ourselves at a disadvantage where before we had the upper hand; when the tide has turned and we no longer find ourselves ahead, but struggling to stay afloat, we may find strength and courage to carry on, as others have before, trusting that there is someone who knows, who cares, and who is more than able to give us peace during our times of uncertainty, insecurity, and emotional unrest or turmoil. Listen, reflect, and take comfort.

 

 

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Keep Looking!

mendhak / Beach Photos / CC BY-SA

When it was released in 1987, U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” really struck a chord with me. At that time, I hadn’t yet consciously embarked on my search for peace and purpose, but I sensed, as I always had since childhood, that there was something far deeper, richer, and far more meaningful to this life. It took another 7 years until I found what I was looking for, and it wasn’t in the religious trappings that had been my experience growing up. Those rituals, though they hinted at something more profound and potentially attainable, were more like an exasperating tease than an invitation to keep searching.

Like an old friend that unexpectedly but pleasantly pops back into one’s life after a period of absence, I heard the song playing recently, and since for some reason I wasn’t able to shake it off, I soon found myself reading the book, Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas, in which the singer freely shares with a music journalist friend his views on family, faith, and justice, among other things.

At the time the song debuted, the members of U2 already held fairly strong positions of faith; and Bono, concerned with the question of poverty even then, had already begun to develop a sense of his greater calling in life, which he can be seen actively pursuing today.

Considering that they grew up in a region of the world that has witnessed countless acts of  violence carried out in the name of religion, I find it interesting that neither Bono nor his fellow band members ever used this as an excuse to avoid seeking God for themselves. Interesting, because we all can probably think of at least a few people who have rationalized neglecting their own spiritual pursuits on the basis of a great deal less than the violence that has been carried out there and in other places under the guise of religion. (The occasional run-in with the “hypocrites” at the local church is generally off-putting enough).  But perhaps being the offspring of a Catholic father and Protestant mother who enjoyed a good marriage in spite of opposition to their union had something to do with Bono’s open-minded, mature outlook on issues of faith even during his youth; and although by his account his parents didn’t take religion too seriously and felt it was an obstacle to reaching God, their evident commitment to their children’s spiritual development clearly demonstrated that they saw a certain value in planting seeds of faith in their lives.

As Bono tells it, his late father admired his son’s faith—he had a wistful envy of Bono’s relationship with God, a keen interest in his spiritual journey, and seemed more impressed by the band’s faith than by their success. According to Bono, given that his father typically saw him as the family idiot and expected less of him than he did of his older brother, on some level he was proud of Bono’s success, but not outspokenly so, and only as long as it didn’t intrude on his privacy. (Bono shares the amusing story of his father standing up and waving his fist at him when the spotlight was turned on him after Bono unexpectedly announced his presence at a concert.) I find it admirable that his father had such a healthy respect for his son’s faith. Quiet introspection must have led him to the conclusion that his one-way conversation with God could not compare with his son’s two-way faith experience, yet he didn’t appear threatened or intimidated by it; he was simply curious.   It’s not clear whether the father ever found what he was looking for before he departed this life, but it’s evident that the son has.

And you?  If you haven’t yet found what you’re looking for, I encourage you to keep searching. We are promised that we will find God if we search for Him with all our heart, so may none of us allow the actions of a few misguided, overzealous, wayward, or mentally unstable individuals to stand in the way of our efforts and to dictate our own spiritual destiny.  We need only reflect on our experiences over the past 24 hours to find the shocking evidence that, even when motivated by the most well-meaning intentions, the best of us are just like the rest of us—prone to error. It’s in our DNA!

Until next post, I leave you with this brief trip to the past. Click below to enjoy!