I don't believe in an interventionist God.
But I know, darling, that you do.
But if I did, I would kneel down and ask him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Oh, not to touch a hair on your head
Leave you as you are
If he felt he had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms.
What does Nick Cave mean by those words and the rest of the lyrics, which have strong religious overtones? I admit that I’ve “googled” this very question, only to find a variety of opinions – as is often the case with these types of searches!
Still, every time I listen to the song it gets me thinking. If a person doesn’t believe God intervenes, would there be any point in praying? Would it mean that God simply created the world, set it in motion and then checked out? Is it easier to think that God doesn’t intervene in our lives because then we wouldn’t have to fathom why there is suffering in the world?
Cave doesn’t believe in the existence of angels either. But! Listen to the song when you have a chance. I think Cave is challenged by his own disbelief in God’s intervention. Why? Because we hear him say, that if God does exist would God mind bringing his loved one into his arms. It sounds very much like a prayer to me. And why would you pray if you had no hope that God would intervene?
This mystery of God’s intervention in our lives is one that many of us think about. And I believe that’s the case for those thinking about the Christian faith, and those who have been on the journey for many years.
How do you make sense of the way God intervenes in your life?
Food for the journey
As you think about the question of God’s intervention in your life, I offer you this prayer:
I’d like to encourage you to read from the Old Testament, the Book of Isaiah, chapters 40-55. Reflecting on this Scripture will, to a certain extent, bring into view the mysterious way in which God is both:
- close to us, when God says, “I will never forget you because I have carved you in the palm of my hand,” and
- is completely other, when God says, “Besides me there is no other God. To whom will you liken me and make me equal?”
Once we try to grasp a sense of the way God intervenes in the world, we soon realise that God’s intervention is like nothing we have encountered before. Maybe this is best summed up by the final words of the Scripture mentioned above:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NRSVCE).
If you would like to pursue this a little more, take a look at this YouTube video from Bishop Robert Barron. It takes a little while to get to the part about God’s intervention and suffering, but I hope you will find it helpful.
Nick Cave: “Into my arms”, April 12, 2007
Bishop Robert Barron: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-S_gOsm7CE
Prayer: Adapted from Discovering Prayer: A 30 day prayer journey of encountering God, and love. Available from the National Centre for Evangelisation.
Words: Sharon Brewer
Images: Mikael Väisänen, Wikimedia Commons; Lightstock