Saturday, April 01, 2023

Wave Upon Wave: Walking the Way

Almost a decade ago, U2 included a song on their "Songs of Innocence" album entitled 'Every Breaking Wave'.

Looking back and remembering the controversy seems long ago now, but it had all the elements of the rampant reactions that we experience even today in a global mass communication culture. 

Billboard magazine summed up the consensus of opinion in an article published in 2019 called " The 100 Moments That Defined the Decade in Music"

Here is how they evaluated the moment:

September 9, 2014: U2’s Songs of Innocence released as a preloaded album on the new iPhone 6

"The 13th studio album from rock gods U2 was given an extremely forward-thinking release: The band partnered with Apple to give the new album away to purchasers of the new iPhone 6, which had the album preloaded into its music library. Though the free LP was intended by Apple as a gift, it was considered an invasion by many customers, who may not have desired the album and found it surprisingly difficult to delete from their new phones. The failed strategy showed the perils of embedding music within technology so deeply (and so quasi-literally), and today, most Apple subscribers couldn’t tell you a thing about Songs of Innocence besides the backlash."

I personally enjoyed the music. It was during my running days and this album was a part of my marathon training where I finished the Mercedes Marathon in Feb. of 2015 (My Mercedes Marathon)

It was this song, Every Breaking Wave, that pushed me the most- the idea of repetition of steps over and over that seems monotonous and counter-productive... but there is a hope of winning, even though the cycle seems to be meaningless failure.

The irony is that this album and song was tossed on that sea of dissension and accusation... but still found a welcome place in my library.

I stumbled on this song again recently and, just like a lot of art, found me in a different time and disposition. My running days are long behind me and walking is more my speed (though I miss them!).

I also spent some time seeing how the song fits into society now. Originally, Bono said the song is about how hard it is to maintain relationships over time- and that still resonates. But Bono has performed it acoustically in different settings and even changed a few lyrics in the succeeding decades of performing it. It has been used to illustrate the seeming never ending cycle of violence in our world and often seems to have a more mystical or spiritual attachment as U2 ages and explores deeper meanings and the struggle between hope and despair.

I find that the song is a call to keep relationships on the forefront of our journey. The waves will never stop crashing, and the opinion of men will never stop criticizing. And instead of being worn out by the pace, we need to continue the desire to be swept off our feet in the relationships that keep us floating. And that main relationship, for me, is with my heavenly Father.

That main relationship helps me to enjoy the others- my wife (we will have been married 35 years this April 2nd), my children, my friends... even the ones who are distant or I haven't spoken to for years.

I know this is what the Lord is impressing upon me in recent readings and encounters. It is funny how the convergence of Scripture (currently Ecclesiastes), a Disney+ show (Mandalorian), difficult news cycles (Nashville shooting, Ukranian war, political controversies, economic distress, culture battles, global enemies), and the joy of my family (especially my new grand-daughter) all have influence in my day to day walk.

But here I am, at the end of a spring break- ready to walk in patience and perseverance. It is always a struggle though we MUST keep climbing upward, I believe, to the heavenly Jerusalem. And though crashing waves cast me down and even, at times, overwhelm me- I am not alone. God puts people in my life who pick me up and I want to help pick up others as well. That's how we do it.... together.

Let's look at this song together- then I encourage you to add it to a playlist - songs that help us in our walk!

Every breaking wave on the shore
Tells the next one there'll be one more

This is the ever ending cycle- 
sun up/ sun down
and the inevitability of crisis AND drama
you are either just coming out of one, or in one, or about to go into another one
It's OK- this is the drumbeat we walk to
and though Longfellow says our hearts are muffled drumbeats of a funeral march to the grave... as followers of Christ, we know it is a march to Zion to the arms of our King and Shepherd!

And every gambler knows that to lose
Is what you're really there for

The world is Satan's dominion, and in the casino, the house always wins!

Summer I was fearlessness
Now I speak into an answer phone

This is what I struggle with- as I age I get more cautious, I get afraid to speak. I cling to personal peace and affluence, and stay out of the fire of the culture. I am not a powerful warrior for good. I am too comfortable in Babylon. But I also sense that there may be a day where I can't stay there... I pray still for revival, but I worry that I will be forced to be a part the resistance reluctantly... 

As the song says....

Like every fallen leaf on the breeze
Winter wouldn't leave it alone

The chorus of the song is a cry to stay together- we can't let this world isolate us from loved ones. We can't let our love grow cold! 

If you go-
If you go your way and I go mine
Are we so
Are we so helpless against the tide?

And this next line makes me smile....

Baby, every dog on the street
Knows that we're in love with defeat

This is the opinion and verdict of the world system... but the Bible always points to the walk of the way
Do you long for this reality? 

Are we ready to be swept off our feet
And stop chasing every breaking wave

In my application, the next stanza presses us to find the wise mentors who have lived enough of life to separate the truth from fraud... I never worry about the idealism and error of the young people ... in time, life makes them confront the truth.. this world is by nature a dark and mean place. But there is a way to live as we hope for restoration from the Creator.

Every sailor knows that the sea
Is a friend made enemy

And every shipwrecked soul knows what it is
To live without intimacy

The line above reeks of the gospel... it is not a message of failure or the stain of sin, it is an invitation of repentance and faith in the love of God who demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!

I thought I heard the captain's voice
But it's hard to listen while you preach

This line has a lot of truth in it. Read the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, and you will find the hard choices between love and obedience in a world of conspiracy and destruction. We have to walk in humility, simplicity,, AND LOVE. Love demands listening!

Like every broken wave on the shore
This is as far as I could reach,

Chorus again:
If you go
If you go your way and I go mine
Are we so
Are we so helpless against the tide?
Baby, every dog on the street
Knows that we're in love with defeat
Are we ready to be swept off our feet
And stop chasing every breaking wave

We are powerless, we are not the elite... nor do we want to be... we trust in God and we love Him BY loving others.

The bridge of this song is excellent!

The sea knows where are the rocks
And drowning is no sin
You know where my heart is
The same place that yours has been
We know that we fear to win
And so we end before we begin
Before we begin

It is a reality- it is understanding- it is an admission- it is a testimony to our quitting before we even try-  but it also holds out a hand to another- we WANT to love- and that is still our quest and dream!

If you go.....

So there you are... a little bit of how my quirky brain works. 

It can sound almost like a mental illness. But if my hope in God is a mental illness, I would rather die in this hope than live in the cold, stark lostness of hopelessness and isolation.

Two pessimists met at a party and instead of shaking hands... they just shook their heads.
Two Christians met outside of that party, uninvited, and they hugged each other in love and hope.

Despite the crashing of wave upon wave, I walk with my bride of 35 years in thanksgiving to my Savior. Please join us in that upward climb to the glory of God.

We march on our knees once again today and we fall time and time again under every breaking wave.
But it is foolish to chase every breaking wave as well.

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