Our Catch today is a song I’d liked you to hear and think about. It’s by Joan Baez. She didn’t write it but I must assume that because she is singing it she must believe at least most of it. I do too — most of it.
The final verse is a little ambiguous, but I can accept that as part of the dialogue of an open mind that we must have in order to walk alongside another soul who is searching and listen for where they are at.
As Christians, it is easy for us to get very dogmatic and insist that everyone believe exactly the same way we believe. But that’s not realistic, nor does it allow for the process we all must go through to come to faith. Remember the man who prayed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Isn’t there a little bit of that in all of us?
I look forward to your comments.
[Warning: If you don’t like Joan because of her politics please don’t let that interfere. Her political views have nothing to do with this song or why I want you to hear it.]
Click here for Joan Baez singing “God is God” by Steve Earle
I believe in prophecy.
Some folks see things not everybody can see.
And, once in a while, they pass the secret along to you and me.
And I believe in miracles.
Something sacred burning in every bush and tree.
We can all learn to sing the songs the angels sing.
Yeah, I believe in God, and God ain’t me.
I’ve traveled around the world,
Stood on mighty mountains and gazed across the wilderness.
Never seen a line in the sand or a diamond in the dust.
And as our fate unfurls,
Every day that passes I’m sure about a little bit less.
Even my money keeps telling me it’s God I need to trust.
And I believe in God, but God ain’t us.
God, of my little understanding, don’t care what name I call.
Whether or not I believe doesn’t matter at all.
I receive the blessings.
And every day on Earth’s another chance to get it right.
Let this little light of mine shine and rage against the night.
Just another lesson
Maybe someone’s watching and wondering what I got.
Maybe this is why I’m here on Earth, and maybe not.
But I believe in God, and God is God.
Wow, so much to take it here in just one song. Where do I start? It starts with faith in prophecy and miracles but a little down the road it’s “Every day I’m sure about a little less” That is so relatable. I’m sure the one line that would be a sticking point for some Christians is, “Whether or not I believe doesn’t matter at all.” But it is in the context of receiving blessings. The rain falls on the just and unjust, God is good to His enemies. Even if it were saying that belief is not that important, I wouldn’t completely disagree. It’s all in how you hear it. Jesus said in Matthew 25 that there will be those who will serve Him without knowing it. They were not aware that by doing good to His brothers they were doing good to him. Their lack of understanding about this will not prevent them from entering His Kingdom.
Also, very relatable and true is “every day on Earth’s another chance to get it right.
Let this little light of mine shine and rage against the night.” If I could re-write this song, I don’t think I would change anything. God ain’t us.
Great analysis, John F.
Even the line, “ Whether or not I believe doesn’t matter at all.” Doesn’t change that “God ain’t us” and “God is God”. Even when we don’t believe, He is.
Sometimes my dogmatism has arisen out of a fear that if I don’t make sure others know about God, He will somehow cease to exist. (Yeah, written like that it sounds ridiculous, but don’t we sometimes want to be God’s “watch dogs“ and ensure everyone believes as we/I do to ensure His continued presence?
Thanks for today’s catch.
I think you have a great insight here. It DOES sound a little ridiculous the way you put it, but I think it’s right. You captured a subtle reality going on inside of US that I had never thought about before. Sometimes when we defend God or try to “win” others to Christ, we act as though God’s reputation or presence is dependent on our success. But as the song says,”God is God,” and He’ll still be God whether we succeed or not. We receive His blessings even when we don’t get it right (“He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” — Matt. 5:45). We might be more effective if we focus more on being the face of Jesus to others, and stop trying to be His watchdogs. Great insight! Thanks.
John, very nice analysis. I’m right with you on all that you say here. You’re right; there’s so much here. My favorite lines are “Something sacred burning in every bush and tree,” and “Even my money keeps telling me it’s God I need to trust.”
Remember Kerry Livgren and Dust In The Wind? Mark Farner changing a few words in his own sing, Some Kind Of Wonderful? Dan Peek and This is For All The Lonely People? We are all on the same road. Believers have a smug tendency to look down our noses at those who are seemingly sidetracked….forgetting our own deviations along our road to the cross. Forgetting that those sidetracks led us to the cross. I stand guilty as charged (Pharisee). Those sidetracks are the very witness that makes us approachable and able to share our journey to Jesus…but only if we are honest. God uses EVERYTHING to bring truth to us and glorify Himself. Remember Baalam’s donkey? God cannot, will not be confined to the box we keep trying to put Him in. As we are blessed, may we be a blessing.
Amen, Sandie. “All truth is God’s truth” is the best way to engage the world. Take what is useful to your own faith; leave the rest. And make note of the rest because it shows the process. We don’t have to get everyone to agree with us; we just help them get one step closer to the kingdom.
I regret to say I have not heard that song before. Inspiring words Thanks for sharing it. Thanks for everybody’s responses. Joan Baez was a favorite folk singer of mine growing up in the 60’s, and I think she grew up or spent time in a Quaker church.
Absolutely LOVED Today’s Catch & the song was great too!
I liked it b/c partly what you wrote, Pastor John: ” As Christians, it is easy for us to get very dogmatic and insist that everyone believe exactly the same way we believe. But that’s not realistic, nor does it allow for the process we all must go through to come to faith. Remember the man who prayed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Isn’t there a little bit of that in all of us?” Amen!!!
And jus LOVED the line from the song: “And I believe in God, but God ain’t us.” Hear, hear to a few of my (R) friends and me! God is in control NO mater who’s in the White House & controls Congress!
Yea, Mark. Good word! You surprised me on this one. I was a little worried I might lose you on this one. Thanks for hanging in there and working this out. Be sure and see today’s (Friday) Catch.
It is refreshing to hear a mention of God in any non-religious context these days! I hope that it opens the doors in many minds to reconsider the possibility of the existence of a caring Creator. But I was most discouraged that the mention of God’s identity was so ambivalent, so complacently ignorant.
It reminded me of the inhabitants of Athens who considered themselves so noble as to pay homage to a god about whom they were ignorant. But through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul insisted that with the coming of Jesus – the One through whom God shone (Heb.1:3) without ambiguity – there remains no excuse for deliberate ignorance about the Creator God. And with the certainty of the coming judgement of this Creator, noble musings upon the daily kindnesses of God’s common grace is of no help when the Day arrives and, in fact, may serve as a subtle distraction from mankind’s looming predicament.
God’s kindness is meant to lead our undeserving hearts to repentance and not to complacency (Rom.2:4). I am wary because that is the net effect of the song on me.
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
Okay. A sobering perspective. But let’s let God’s kindness (as you pointed out) not fear, lead people to Christ.