Few songs can capture our deepest emotions combined with a virtuoso quality of musical genius. Brian Wilson’s God Only Knows timelessly fuses these two qualities. The music website Pitchfork considered this Beach Boys’ song the greatest of the decade in their 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960’s. A biopic movie Love and Mercy on Wilson renewed interest in the song during the summer.
God Only Knows depicts life and death; joy and grief; light and darkness; hope and despair. A man shares the intimate details of a woman he loves who has seemed to have passed away. His feelings range from his own indecision to his realism on life without this person. This song does not resolve the range of emotions but encapsulates the complexity of humanity. Various articles about the song have suggested Wilson struggled to put the word “God” in the song because of the probable reactions. Yet, the repeated line of the chorus suggests only God could only understand the depth of this man’s longings.
I have listened to God Only Knows dozens of times this summer. Perhaps it reminds me of my love for Robyn. In some senses, it describes the mixed emotions of humanity. Even more so the song has left me considering the chorus, “God only knows what I’d be without you…”
Genesis speaks to humanity being created in the image of God. Allen Ross in Recalling the Hope of Glory describes the image of God, “When the LORD imparted his “breath of life,” he was sharing with people some of is nature, giving them the capacity to represent him on earth. They were then able to communicate with God, enjoy God, obey God and serve God.” Simply, humanity was meant to know God and be known by him.
The writer of Psalm 139 starts the chapter by the familiar verse, “Search me and know me..” Yet, the writer goes on to say in verse 17, “How precious are your thoughts, O God. How vast is the sum of them…” It seems that scripture has given us a deep sense of God Only Knows.
In some ways, we’ve lost sight of this. 70% of Psalms are laments — writers who expressed their deep sadness and often times anger with God. The Bible honestly paints a picture of humans who struggle with God like Job, Elijah and Paul. Yet, we see the grace God gives. Even more, when the book of Hebrews describes Jesus, the writer speaks of a Savior who identifies with humanity (Hebrews 2:14-18). God Only Knows us in our doubts, joys, griefs, despair and hope.
Think of the powerful theological and practical implications of being known by God…
Our deepest desire to be known has been met by Jesus Christ.
The Creator who knows us identifies with our deepest feelings in prayers.
We don’t have to succumb to the lies we believe about ourselves but can find hopeful truth in Jesus.
Our greatest fear of being found out gets extinguished because of the reconciliation with God through death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Wilson’s song provides us a picture of being created in the image of God and being known by Him. We have a space to speak of our deep and complex human feelings. What we begin to discover is God who desires to know us: the good, bad, ugly, and everything in between.
Today, when you feel misunderstood or alone, remember God Only Knows. Often in following Jesus, it’s less about ordering and resolving the emotions of our souls but embracing the complexities to find that we are known by him. God has created you in His image.
God Only Knows…