“With no one else around, his choice would always be gospel, losing and finding himself in the old spirituals. He was happiest when he was singing his way back to spiritual safety. But he didn’t stay long enough. Self-loathing was waiting back up at the house, where Elvis was seen shooting at his TV screens, the Bible open beside him at St. Paul’s great ode to love, Corinthians 13. Elvis clearly didn’t believe God’s grace was amazing enough.”
Bono, Rolling Stone Magazine, 2004
Dear God, a man wrote a good editorial about Elvis in the Dallas Morning News, and he used the quote above from Bono in a piece that Bono wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine in 2004. It’s that last sentence that gets me: “Elvis clearly didn’t believe that God’s grace was amazing enough.”
One of the things that convinces me that you are real is our deep longing for you in times of trouble. C.S. Lewis addressed it in The Problem of Pain. Humans, throughout history, have sought you out. You are there. You are watching. You care. You love. You forgive. The words “amazing grace” are a sweet, sweet sound that saved a wretch like me. All of my faults, sins, vices, arrogance, selfishness, self-righteousness, etc. are allotted for in your amazing grace. I was once lost, but I’m so grateful you found me. But I had an advantage in being found. You first found my father, and then my father showed me where you were.
I love how Bono paints a picture of Elvis being drawn back to “spiritual safety.” You are a bedrock when all else is shifting sand. Our temptation is to get off of our foundation and start expanding our dwellings beyond you. I do it as much as Elvis did–he just had more opportunity than I do. But when I’ve built something outside of the foundation you’ve laid for me, the crumbling will one day come. I’ve learned this time and time again. What nonbelievers don’t understand is that there is so much peace in seeking you and building only on the foundation that you laid. They see it as limiting, but it is our path to becoming as close to you as possible.
Father, I heard a song based on the prayer of St. Francis this morning that I want to close with. “It is in giving that I receive. It is in pardoning that I am pardoned. And it is in dying that I am born to eternal life. Make me an instrument of your peace. I want to know what it’s like to follow you. When people look at me I want them to see the light of the world inside.” (“A Simple Prayer”) And I’ll add, help me to fully understand just how amazing your grace is.
In Jesus’ name I pray,