In 1987 the Irish band U2 produced a popular song, “I Still  Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” It is a song about  searching for faith. God is not explicitly mentioned, but it doesn’t  take much insight to interpret the song as a longing for a  relationship with God. The last lines of the song are:  

You broke the bonds and you  
Loosed the chains  
Carried the cross  
Of my shame  
Of my shame  
You know I believed it  
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for  
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…  

(U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” from the album, The Joshua Tree, ©1987).  

 Bono sings that he “believes” that “you carried the cross.”  This is a clear reference to Jesus and how he frees us from sin  and shame, especially in the context of the rest of the song. What is noteworthy, though, is that even though the singer “believes,”  he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for. Believing – at least in  the sense of acknowledging something to be true – isn’t enough.  God is not a statement or a formula that we acknowledge as true.  God is a Person with whom we long to have a relationship. Until we grow in that relationship with God, until we experience God’s love for us and love God back, we’ll continue to say, “I still haven’t  found what I’m looking for.”  

 In the first chapter of John’s gospel, some of John the Baptist’s disciples start to follow Jesus – I mean that literally, they  start to walk behind him. Jesus turns and asks them, “What are  you looking for?” They respond, “Where are you staying?” It  seems to me that they already in some sense “believed” that  Jesus was the Messiah when they started walking, even if their  idea of who the Messiah was and what the Messiah would do were radically different from Jesus’ plans. But they knew on some level that acknowledging that Jesus was the Messiah or even  knowing his plans was not the most important thing. Knowing  Jesus, having a relationship with Jesus, was the most important  thing. So they asked, “Where are you staying?” The implied  questions were “Can we come with you? Can we stay with you?  Can we be with you?” Jesus answered, “Come and see.”  

 We can know a lot about God without really knowing God.  You can know somebody’s address, what kind of car they drive,  their Social Security number, who their friends and family are, and  even what kind of TV shows they watch but not really know somebody in the sense of having a relationship with that person.  There’s a big difference between knowing about God and knowing God. It’s important to know about God, to know what God has done in the past (we learn about this in the Bible), to learn what God expects of us, to learn how people have  responded to God and formed relationships with him in the past.  But it should not stop there. We need to get to know God if we’re  really to find what we’re looking for.  

 St. Augustine, a really smart guy who understood a lot about God and people – and knew God and people – wrote in a  prayer, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” What he  meant was that we all are looking for something. We’re all  longing for something. And that something is actually a Someone  – God. We need to be in a relationship with God and nothing else will really satisfy us. Of course this doesn’t mean that people can’t be happy in some real ways even if they lack a relationship with God. We all know people who don’t know God who are  doing pretty well. We can find other things to fill (at least partially) that spot in our hearts that longs for God. But the other people in our lives and the things we acquire are not really what we’re  looking for. Knowing God can make a difference, a huge difference in everyone’s life.  

 How do we get to know God? I regret to inform you that  there are not six easy steps to a deep relationship with God. Just  like there are not six easy steps to a deep relationship with your spouse, your child, or your best friend. There probably aren’t even six easy steps to a good relationship with your dog.  Relationships are complicated. Relationships need time to mature. If we want to build our relationships with God, to know God and not just know about God, there is no quick fix. We need  to spend time talking to God and listening to God on a regular  basis. Whatever time of day works for you also works for God.  That’s the easy part. The hard part is that it’s not always easy to  make the time. Sometimes it seems like God is not listening, and many times it seems that answers are not coming. Most of the time, God doesn’t speak to us in dramatic ways. Even in the  Bible, most people didn’t hear the audible voice of God. In my experience and in the experience of people I know, we most often hear God through the words of Scripture, in a sense or feeling we  get that God is leading us, in words that come to us through other  people, through books, through coincidences that are not really coincidences. As we spend more time talking and listening to  God, we deepen that relationship and gain more of a sense of  God’s love for us and care for us. It doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s not always easy. But like anything worth having, a relationship  with God is worth the time we put into it. God wants to have a  relationship with each one of us.  

 We may not even know what we are looking for, and all too  often, even when we know that we are looking for a deeper  relationship with God, we echo U2 and admit, “I still haven’t found  what I’m looking for….” But we are not alone. God reaches out  to us. Other believers can support us, pray for us, and even offer  some guidance as we deepen our relationships with God. The good news is that it is possible to know God, to love God, and to experience God’s love for us.  

It is a sad fact that we never completely find what we are  looking for while we live on this earth because this world and every relationship in it is imperfect, even our relationships with God. This is true simply because we are not perfect. But even  though we are lost, sinful, and inattentive, God cares about us.  God calls to us. God invites us to “come and see,” and we can  know God and God’s love. We can find a taste of what we’re  looking for.

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