“In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows they learned to swim...”
— U2, Until the End of the World
It’s a position almost everyone’s been in — probably without exception — but one that many never actually realise, for what “it” is. The traitor, Judas Iscariot, knew an experience of betrayal that’s not so obvious to us, yet it should be. He knew perhaps more than any other single human being the cost of a double-sided, bittersweet regretful joy; perhaps as one of the first who experienced Jesus’ “paradise”.
We’ve all been there if we think about it. In their song, Until the End of the World, U2 catapult us into the conversations, perhaps, of Jesus and Judas — from the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane to the “final” conversation around the time of Judas’ suicide, racked with repentant guilt and sadness was he over the personal meaning of betraying his master. It’s a tragic pity that with every mention of Judas Iscariot in the gospels there is the stinging legacy of his last prophetically-announced deed. We are not so unfortunate — such is God’s goodness and grace to us.
Even though there’s a literal and tangible plot in the song, there’s also a possible “now, but not yet” scenario at play. As we ‘reach out for the One we tried to destroy,’ post-rebellion, we find that we too threw Jesus to the wolves many times, vandalising the truth and cheating love in our selfishness.
As we reach out to Jesus at the point of our realisation, we finally understand this bittersweet, double-sided irony — we at once have waves of regret and waves of joy. We don’t quite understand this salvific experience — it swims over us, through us, in and out, upside down. We’re involved yet detached. God shows us in an instant how little we know; how awesome he is.
What is this thing called “Grace”? How does this process of heavenly salvation re-engineer everything we ever knew or thought? And why us? — traitors.
The repentant heart attracts the grace-filled God through our Lord Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. The taxonomy of our guilt and sorrow combines with the issues of grace at play in a Lord we can’t quite see yet — he’s about to bring this about — there’s nothing more certain as destiny awaits. In our absolute incomprehension, the rock bottom moment becomes our euphoric climax — as it is later revealed... it’s moments away... and we thought God could only hate us.
For you and me, the God of Creation is bending down and scooping up; yes, right now — yes, even — especially even — for one person. He said he’d wait ‘til the end of the world — he, in fact, doesn’t wait even that long; and we’re his — always were; always will be.
Waves of regret we have for what we did to God – crucified him. Waves of joy we have for having been saved by the grace that redeemed us in this same Jesus Christ. The Christian has both: waves of regret, waves of joy.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.
 Wikipedia, Until the End of the World (song), Retrieved 13 October 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Until_the_End_of_the_World_(song)