BonoThursday morning I received a phone call at 5:10am from my dad. Being that my dad lives in Chicago it meant that he was calling me at 4:10am. That’s never a good phone call. It wasn’t. He was calling me to tell me that my grandmother had passed away 20 minutes earlier. Thankfully, I had been in Chicago earlier in the week and was able talk with her and our family was able to have a special time together on Sunday evening. That made it easier but the news was still deeply painful. I grew up with my Grandma Longenecker. She’s been a very important and steadying influence in my life. I know for a fact that she prayed for me everyday. I know because she told me that and frankly, my Grandmother was definitely not a liar!

This was fresh on my mind later in the day when headed to my first ever U2 concert. Now, I have always loved U2 (just like everyone else) but I had yet to be able to see them live. So, needless to say, I loved the concert. Somehow, even with the high expectations I had, the whole experience still blew me away.

I was asked recently what my favorite moment of the night was. That’s an easy answer. I have always loved their song “I Sill Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” its simply a classic. But its not the musical genius that gets me in this song, its the lyrics.

I remember when I was in college I had some friends who didn’t like this song. They used it to try and prove that Bono couldn’t be a Christian. Their point was simple: if he really had Jesus in his life, he would have found what he was looking for. Now, I get that and I understand what they were trying to say. Knowing Jesus makes my life worth living. But I think this response to this song shows a hole in many people’s theological framework, most specifically their understanding of hope.

Now, I might be wrong on my interpretation of this song, but that is the great thing about music, its often multilayered in meaning. But, I interpret these lyrics, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” as a cry for the New Heavens and New Earth.

BonoThe song begins with the idea that the songwriter has gone through great lengths to strive after God and moves on to the idea that he’s even tried finding ultimate meaning in the “lower” parts of this world (I hear the voice of the writer of Ecclesiastics in these lyrics).

The point is, he’s still looking for something that he has not yet attained… He even believes that, “You broke the bonds, And you loosened the chains, Carried the cross, And all my shame….” And yet he is still running and longing after something.

How is this possible? How can someone still be longing for something more even if they understand the significance of the cross?

Well, I have a pretty good sense of the significance of the cross. Of the resurrection.

And frankly, I long for something.

I long for the New Heavens and New Earth.

For all things to be made new.

For their to be no more wars.

No more famine.

No more crying.

No more pain.

I long for a world where my grandmother would not have to go through what she did.

I long for a world where my grandfather would not have to watch the love of his life die.

I long for a New World.

The Apostle Paul longed for it too in Romans 8:19-24,

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.

So, in that moment in the concert, fresh of the experience of death, I was able to sing and cry out with 60,000 people a song of longing and a song of hope. There were chills. There were deep emotions. There was even some holding back of tears.

The more I understand this full redemption of our broken world as the ultimate understanding of hope, the more I long for songs like this one. Songs that sing of our longing for the Kingdom to come in all its fullness.

We sing a similar song as Israel.

They sang of their longing for the Messiah. We should be singing of our longing for the Messiah to come again and make all things new and heal this broken and fractured world.

So, song writers, write me some songs…

You’ve got a pretty high standard to live up to though!

*Photos of the concert by my good friend Laurence Tom. Unfortunately my camera was dead. 🙁