I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” — C.S. Lewis

My high school teacher Darchelle Worley gave an assignment in Bible class to share a movie clip or song that resonated with the gospel. Someone shared a song by U2, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." It’s an anthem about desire and the search for meaning. At first glance it may seem like a strange choice for a gospel song, but sometimes the best “church” music isn’t written for the church.

The impetus for the title was inspired by a Bob Dylan song called “Idiot Wind” and lyrics that say, "You'll find out when you reach the top you're on the bottom."[1] This is the paradox of worldly success: Sometimes the most depressing thing a person can do is succeed. It’s hard to reach the “top” and still feel like you are on the bottom.

Most truth is held in the tension of paradox. We like easy answers. We like immediate resolution. But truth is more like jazz than pop — it doesn't always resolve in expected ways. The kingdom of the world promises instant satisfaction, but its “pleasures” never last. The kingdom of heaven promises everlasting peace, but you have to wait for it. The kingdom of heaven is coming … but it is also now here. We can taste and see it even now. But the ultimate resolution we are looking for can’t be found in a broken world.

Deep down in our bones we know something is not right here. We feel it every time we go to a funeral. We feel it when we try to comfort a hurting friend. We feel it through the longings and aches our words cannot express. And yet by faith we hold on, we wait.  The kingdom of heaven is at hand, but the promise has not yet been fulfilled.

Hebrews 11 ends by saying, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (verses 39 and 40).

The U2 song echoes this longing for fulfillment. The lyrics conclude:

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
But yes, I'm still running
You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it

But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for…

Recently I went to a lecture in Seattle about how the Northwest is spiritual but not religious. One of the presenters said people in the Northwest are haunted by a longing they don’t know how to identify. They see a sunrise on Mount Rainier or a humpback breach in the Pacific, and they are in awe, they feel a sense of worship… but they don’t know who to thank.

What they don’t realize is these moments of awe are signposts that point to God. Nature itself testifies that God is alive. It is His symphony to which all of creation dances. We were made to worship. But those who can’t hear the music think those who dance are insane.[2] Spiritual signposts are all around, but spiritual things are spiritually discerned. It is only through the lens of faith and worship that our truest desires and deepest longings can be satisfied.

C.S. Lewis said the fact that these deep desires exist point to their ultimate reality. In his book Mere Christianity, he explains, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”[3]

The real thing is expressed by a fantastic German word, sehnsucht, that means “the inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what; a yearning for a far, familiar, nonearthly land one can identify as one's home."[4]

God has put this eternal yearning inside each of us: "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart."[5] The Hebrew word for eternity (עוֹלָם), literally means "beyond the horizon." Planted deep in our hearts we are all longing for our true home. As Augustine said, “The heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” If we still haven’t found what we are looking for, it may be an indicator we were made for more. Our deepest longings can’t be satisfied here. The kingdom of heaven is at hand … but we haven’t fully entered into it yet. We are waiting for the return of our king. We are waiting for our true home:

I've got a home in Glory Land
That outshines the sun
Oh I've got a home in Glory Land
That outshines the sun
Way beyond the blue

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Still_Haven%27t_Found_What_I%27m_Looking_For#cite_note-m181-7

[2] A popular proverb often attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche, but no citation is given.

[3] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Touchstone: New York, 1996), pp. 120–121.

[4] https://other-wordly.tumblr.com/post/21155429688/sehnsucht

[5] Eccl. 3:11