I was introduced to the music of U2 back in high school, and I have remained a fan ever since. Bono, the lead singer has been open about his faith in Christ, and though unconventional in his expression, I don’t doubt it. Recently I had the opportunity, with Lisa, to see his one-person presentation entitled, “Stories of Surrender,” a two-hour depiction of his life story based on his recently published book by the same name. The experience was exceptional and profound.
I was drawn into the experience and noted how he used emotion, intellect, cadence, art, movement, music and silence to communicate the message. There were many instances where the elongated pause or breath was designed uniquely to invite me, the listener into his space, into his emotion, into his experience. I was invited to experience and see for myself what he experienced and saw, and then I was given permission to write my own story. These invitations were particularly profound as he spoke about his relationship with his wife, his late father, his late mother (he was only 10 when she passed away) and his band mates. I laughed, I pondered, and I wept. I reflected on my own journey with my wife, family, late father, mother and friends. I was reminded of God’s design of each of our lives and how there are aspects of life that are rather mundane all the while mixed in with the spectacular.
An ill-timed expression
The auditorium that hosted this event was at capacity, approximately 2500 people, sort of like a large church service. The energy of the audience, many with beer in hand (unlike a church service), was ready for a one-man rock concert….and yes, they did get a little of that. However, the audience sat at the feet of an artist who shared his story. A story mixed with laughter, pain, loss, stardom, love, marriage, family, conflict, fear, laughter, and the occasional unbelievable, “whaaaaaaaaat?” However, periodically, at just the wrong time, with the artist’s silence hanging in the air, purring and hovering, inviting me to experience the same and waiting for me to surrender, someone would yell, “I love you Bono” …breaking the moment. The ill-timed expression (well-meaning I’m sure), occurred several times at the growing chagrin of other members of the audience. I couldn’t help but be a bit irritated and sort of wished they would stop. I thought someone would do something or say something. However, nothing happened. I chuckled and thought if it bothered Bono, he was in the best position to say something…but he said nothing. The irony of it was if they really “loved Bono” they would let him do his storytelling without the interruption. The ill-timed expression was less about the artist and more about the fan. I then thought about what I would say to that person if I saw them in the lobby, post show. Irritated, I could perhaps say something like, “next time don’t be so selfish” or “not everyone wants to hear your screams of enthusiasm” but quickly realized I would probably say, with a big smile on my face, “looks like you enjoyed the show. I did too.” I never had the chance.
I share all of this for a deeper reason. I couldn’t help but think about God’s interactions with me and mine with Him as He tells us His story. God also uses emotion, intellect, cadence, art, movement, music and silence to communicate the message. His story too is filled with laughter, pain, loss, stardom, love, marriage, family, conflict, fear, laughter and the often unbelievable, “whaaaaaaaaat? (think sunset with a green flash). He too is a master storyteller and will often tell His story with the well-placed pause…. the moment of silence…. the invitation to make it my own. The gap can be uncomfortable and the introspection awkward. God invites me into His story and to make it my own. However, many times in the middle of God’s pause, I yell out, “I love you God”.Perhaps my ill-timed bold expression of my devotion and admiration of God is a decoy and distraction because I don’t want to surrender to the invitation; it’s too uncomfortable, so I interrupt the silence (but I look good doing it). Sometimes the greatest act of worship is to sit in silent reverence to His breath.
Linger on His message
Perhaps God’s story is revealing things that He wants to share with me. Perhaps when He shares His story about Adam and Eve’s rejection of His love, he evokes in me a time in my life when my love was rejected and the pain that ensued. Perhaps when He shares about His anger towards those who hypocritically speak on His behalf, he evokes in me the anger I feel when someone falsely represents me. Perhaps when He shares the story of inviting many to follow Him, and they do, it evokes in me the satisfaction I get from being a part of a team, a family, a community. Do you understand? Sometimes God will speak to us in mysterious ways and the truth of what He’s saying is not immediately revealed…. we linger in the silence and in the in between where the true meaning is revealed. Therefore, before we so quickly jump up and interrupt God’s story with an ill-timed, “we love you God” …we actually show Him our love by waiting, by listening, by pondering and letting His words linger as we meditate on the mystery of His masterfully told story, which becomes our story.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.
Read more articles by Stephan Tchividjian at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/author/stephan-tchividjian/