Moment Of Surrender is a big song in the U2 canon and I don’t just mean long as it weighs in at seven and a half minutes. It is a hybrid of One and Your Blue Room, meandering and moody, and certain proof of Eno and Lanois’ involvement in the writing process.
It is an epic journey song, past fires that burned, black holes and dark altars through “the stations of the cross” seems to conclude in a transcendent space where only the redeemed and the Redeemer are in focus; passersby go unnoticed.
Surrender is a common theme threading through the entire U2 canon, even the title of song on War but from I Will Follow to Yahweh and here more explicitly here on No Line On The Horizon. You never stray far in a U2 song from some idea of surrendering to something bigger.
There are a few blinding spiritual truths on Moment of Surrender that will leap out at anyone prepared to meditate on this soul music.
The first is “Two souls too smart to be in the realm of certainty.” On Stand Up Comedy Bono also spoke of this danger of certainty, “While I’m getting over certainty...” This is the lesson of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For still at play; faith is assured but a journey ahead recognised.
There has been much damaging baggage that has arrived through the post modern spirit of the age, just as there was good and bad that arrived and needed deciphered in Modernity. One of the things we can now let go of is Modernity’s seamless and arrogantly dangerous certainty.
That’s where faith kicks in as we become aware of our human frailty. It is with finite minds that we try and define a God that is beyond our ability to describe. U2 spoke of that as far back as their use of Latin in Gloria from 1981’s October record, when they said words failed them in their praise to God.
For the band their exposure to intransigent arrogance of North American right-wing Fundamentalism in their first early eighties’ tours made them step back from comfortably calling themselves Christians. “Espresso shots of self righteous indignation,” as my friend David Dark describes them, can causes ungodly things to be done in the name of God.
The second lesson is a straight lift from the First Letter of John. The lyric “it’s not if I believe in love/but if love believes in me.” Again on Stand Up Comedy Bono declares, “God is love” and we know that we were right to read “God” as “love” into all those belief songs like God Part 2 through the past thirty years.
1 John chapter 4 and verse 10 reads, “This is love: not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son and atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Similarly the same John writing his Gospel records Jesus telling his disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit.” (John 15 v 16).
When you are not gifted with absolute certainty but are peering through a glass darkly then it is good to know that it is not about our certainty of belief as much as someone who believes in us, not about the merited total score of our love but of a bigger love reaching out to us. Bono prays, “Oh love believe in me.”
Finally, and most sensationally for me, is a line of just four words that I think makes up one of U2’s most powerful depth charges - “Of vision over visibility.” The world would be a whole lot different if we took such advice. What is visible often prevents our actions of change whether personal or social.
As Bono’s mate, writer and activist, Jim Wallis writes, “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence and watching the evidence change.” The evidence is often too visible for us to find any hope and it is in hope that we discover a vision that can change the world.
When the Old Testament prophets spoke of God’s people dreaming dreams and seeing visions this is what they were on about. The ability to raise your perspective above the horizontal and not just see what is there but what could be there if we had the vision to imagine something different. The book of Ecclesiastes is all about this; the meaninglessness of the horizontal without God’s vertical perspective (I might have stolen this from Charles Swindoll!).
It is what Jesus was talking about when he told the disciples to forget treasure on earth and get some down payments for forever. It was what Paul was telling he Corinthians when he said that believers don’t bother too much with what is seen because all that is visible is temporary but put their trust in the unseen because what is unseen is eternal; that takes vision! With these Biblical truths at work then a world reformative vision can come into play that will bring God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven – now that is vision over visibility!