(*Warning, if you watch this video, you might cry. Here are the lyrics)
I’m wrecked by this video. Like, I’m choking tears back in this public space I’m calling my office today.
This song has been on repeat for more than a year now…along with the rest of the epic album, but I guess some days we are able to see, hear, or view something from a different perspective. Never once did I imagine this video to the words I’ve replayed…
So, any of you who have been here for a while know I’m a die-hard U2 fan, but I’m not a creeper…I don’t wear blue sunglasses or black leather from head to toe or know the names of every one of their family members, though I think Ali is the backbone of the whole operation…well, the God she loves…but, I will let you in on this: besides maybe the fact these are songs written and sung by a bunch of men, the songs of U2 are more often than not, the cries of my heart…it’s my own journey I picture when they sing. So many of their songs I sing to God, just He and I, face to face, no secrets, nothing hidden. Other days it’s them cheering me on, like to get on my boots, that I’m beautiful, how I’m always thinking about the end of the world, how the death of her was not the death of me, that my voice is meant to be heard, reminding me how the ache in my heart is so much of who I am…how I must free myself to be myself...
U2 puts melody to words I could only dream of expressing.
Before I came to “work” today, I was thinking about “The Test” of Jesus in the wilderness. I’ve read it dozens of times, but wanted to open it up a bit, through the lens of empathy, because it was there in the wild where Jesus was tempted by everything we would ever be tempted with. Honestly, I had to go back and see if it was a simultaneous fast/temptation. I had to confirm the timing of when Jesus was at His weakest, physically, and when Satan showed up to entice Him with really awesome things like sustenance, abusing God’s grace, and power over the earth’s kingdoms.
Part of me was hoping the Test happened during the last few days of the fast, like while He was prepping, but before He was totally ready…
In The Message the wording is, “Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights.”
But see, it didn’t. He prepared. Jesus’ eyes were open, even though His vessel was empty. The Spirit led Him into the wild for the Test…Jesus prepared for it because the Devil was ready to dish. He prepared for it, I assume, as an example to us of the day to day choices we’d be faced with one day…
The Devil is always ready to dish, whether we are prepared or in the midst of preparation or even when we aren’t ready for it. Jesus exposed his schemes: The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
Jesus follows this scary, fearful statement with TRUTH…life-giving truth, HOPEFUL truth, chain-cutting, unleashing, FREEING TRUTH,
I came so they can have real and eternal life,
more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
Logistically, I’m not sure how Satan and Jesus and Holy Spirit scheduled this meeting, other than looking back to a book most people avoid reading, because they think if they read it, it’ll happen to them, too. You know, because avoiding hard and painful things make them magically disappear…but in the book of Job, God and Satan have a couple of exchanges where the life of Job is center stage. I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but I imagine it could have been arranged this same way…
I don’t know how God works. He made me, not the other way around, but I do know this: I am tempted on a daily basis, whether blatantly or, what I suspect, subtly. Gone unchecked or unconfessed, I think our temptations slowly build momentum. We don’t necessarily have face to face encounters with the Devil himself out in a dry arid desert to be enticed with things that make us feel good. There’s plenty of battle that goes on in our minds and hearts…but the thing is, there they aren’t real yet…hence, our need to expose it to God, or confess it to another before it becomes more than it is.
In the U2 video short above, Woody Harrelson’s character wasn’t born a criminal. And it doesn’t even speak of what line he crossed, what subtleties added up to the tipping point that landed him in prison where the hope of repentance and time to think would bring healing…or at least, eventual release.
The scene in the car where he and his daughter sit in silence, the tension in his face from the familiarity of the deafening silence of however long his sentence was and wanting to breathe and sing and shout out the window for the world to know, “I AM FREE AND THIS IS MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER AND I LOVE HER AND IF YOU JUDGE ME BY THE CHOICES I MADE, YOU WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO SEE THIS SWEET REDEMPTION, BUT SHE’S SITTING NEXT TO ME. AND IT’S THAT PART OF ME THAT NEVER LIVED BEHIND BARS…I’M NO LONGER IMPRISONED.”
Over the course of many years, throughout different seasons, I have been imprisoned by the compounding effects of fear, insecurity, laziness, anxiety, discontent, comparison, what if?, longing, wandering, complete disregard, apathy, pathlessness…the list goes on for me, at least.
But, the sooner I recognize the subtleties, unpack them, bring them to light, remember that between God and I, there is no such thing as a secret, confess to loving people that I don’t have my act together, the less of a grip the temptation has on me.
By God’s original design, we were meant to live free…what subtleties have crept in to imprison you?