Friday, June 5, 2009

Light My Way

Signs are pointing to a set list for U2 360 involving some old classics or even some "B" sides. In listening to everything from Boy to No Line on the Horizon, some of my own old favorites are sounding new all over again. One of the songs I can't stop listening to right now is Ultraviolet (Light My Way) from Achtung Baby.

The song, like most U2 creations, can be taken in different ways. On one level it is a love song, perhaps of Bono's love for Ali and his need for her help, even rescue. It could also be about a child's gratitude and need for a parent's love (the "opera" line perhaps referring to Bono's father, as it does in Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own). And like many U2 songs, it could also have a spiritual meaning as it relates to knowing the love and grace of God. Even in Scripture the love between a man and a woman is an illustration of the love Christ has for His Church and the need the Church has for Christ to light its Way (Ephesians 5:21-31 and also the Old Testament Book of the Song of Solomon). I'll let others discuss the first two's been my practice in these blogs to mine the spiritual vein.

The song begins with honesty, transparency and reality...a truly spiritual Christian understands the reality of this fallen world and the temptations of the flesh that pull us toward "getting it wrong." Sometimes we are so tired of fighting against evil that we get tired...we just feel like "checkin' out" and we realize that we "can't always be strong." God delights in such honesty. Our heavenly Father doesn't expect us to have it all together...what He deeply desires is our honesty and vulnerability. In Isaiah 57:15 we learn that God can not resist the one who is contrite, humble, broken-hearted. In James 4:6 we read that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

There is the realization in the song that "the day is as dark as the night is long." There are times when we walk in darkness even as we walk with God. In Isaiah 50:10 we learn that when we walk in darkness and have no light, we are to trust in the Name of the LORD and rely upon our God. When we feel like we are "in the black, can't see or be seen" that is the time for faith in the Light of the World (John 8:12). The Son of God is the Light of the World, the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2: But for you who fear My Name, the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings)...Baby, Baby, Baby, Light my way! Ultraviolet.

Sometimes it is our own sin that puts us in a place of darkness...and we can "feel like trash." But Christ can wash us "White as Snow" and "You can make me feel clean."

"You bury Your treasure where it can't be found." In the Gospels, the Good News of the love of God in Christ is illustrated as a treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44). Also, all during the mission of Christ, He told people to keep His True Identity a secret, commanding those He healed not to talk about it (Mark 7:36; Luke 5:14; Luke 8:56). He even told the disciples not to tell others when they figured out He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:20). In many ways, Bono and U2 hide the treasure of the Gospel in many of their songs. It's buried treasure where only those who really want to find it, will. As Bono says elsewhere, they are being very smart and just sort of drawing their fish in the sand, as the early Christians did with Ixthus.

Bono sings of the "price of love, I know it's not cheap." The price of God's love was the infinite price of the cost of the Blood of the Lamb...precious blood. There is no such thing as "cheap grace;" there are only people who treat the grace of God cheaply. But if we hope in the Love of God brought to us through Christ, there will be Light and Peace. There really is a "silence that comes to a house where no one can sleep" if that house puts it's hope in Christ. Life can be filled with difficulty, but if we fix our eyes on Christ, there will be a peace that surpasses all understanding. The silence and stillness of peace and comfort from the Light of the World can come even in the midst of troubles that steal sleep from our eyes. "Baby, baby, baby, Light my way...Oh Ultraviolet."

There is an ebb and flow to faith...and doubt. There are times when we can "sleep on stones (Genesis 28:18)." There are times even when life is hard and rough, that our hope in God's love is secure...and we can sleep in peace. There are times when we feel and sense God's love so thoroughly that our faith seems indestructible. There are other times, however, when all we can manage to do is "lie together in whispers and moans." Prayer barely audible, faith barely we moan through pain, suffering and disappointment (Romans 8:22-26). Times when we are "all messed up and I had an opera in my head." Life can feel like an opera at a tragic story when all the songs are in minor keys...when it seems like the song will end, not in life but with death. Yet at those times, "Your love was a Lightbulb, hanging over my bed...Baby, baby, baby, Light my way...Ultraviolet."

Using his poetic license as a song writer, Bono could be treating the Spirit, as he often says, "as a feminine sort of thing." So, to cry out to God's Spirit with the prayer, "Baby, baby, baby, Light my way" is in no way irreverent, but Bono's normal poetic means of referring to the Spirit.

We all face times/seasons of darkness...and in those times, Who lights your way? Ultraviolet? The Sun of Righteousness?

"Oh sugar, don't you cry; Oh child, wipe the tears from your eyes."

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