Today, we have a guest post from my good friend, Darren Woon. Darren is the guitar leader at South City Church. We have had the privilege of serving together in our previous church and even though we are now in different churches, we still minister together in city-wide events when we get the opportunity to escape from the rigours of local church commitments. I have a strong respect and admiration for Darren’s passion for God’s presence and his ability to “push the envelope” and challenge the status quo.
Darren’s post below was actually first written in 2004. I came across it again recently and asked him if I could republish it.
The context for my wanting to publish this post was because of Pastor Benny’s first sermon of the year at Faith Community Church. Pastor Benny shared from Jeremiah 29:11. One of the points he made was that when God said that He knew the plans He had for us, the word “plans” in the Hebrew is “khashav”, which means to “count” or “reckon”. The word picture it evoked was of a composer.
According to Pastor Benny, our lives are never played out in just one note. Rather, the different notes go up and down – individually, they may not make sense, but in totality, they form a beautiful melody. So God’s plans are never set in concrete, but they are flexible to take into account our own decisions and volition. But yet, He is able to manoeuvre around the choices we make to produce a beautiful composition. And that reminded me of Darren’s post, written all those years ago. So here it is below. Hope you guys enjoy it!
If our walk with God is a song, I don’t think it will be like a symphony orchestra, where the parts to be played are fixed and completely predictable. Neither will it be like a wild and uncontrolled jam session, where the musicians play whatever they want, oblivious to what the others are doing.
I believe that a close relationship with the Lord is in between these two extremes – it is more like improvisation in a jazz tune. There is a theme, but at the same time, it is unpredictable. Musicians rely on tight (and wordless) communication and they play it by ear, complementing each other. An action of one musician calls for the others to react to it, to build on it, making it more beautiful than what that single musician did on his own. There are no strict rules and no pre-defined direction, just an ability to play from the heart, flow with the others and to “feel” what to do next.
This is similar to what God has called us to. He wants to have a relationship with us, not a dictatorship. He gives us the opportunity to be actively involved in the “song” of our life. There may be times where the will of God may not have a definite or specific direction. I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve sought God’s will, only to feel that He’s not going to say anything. I always thought that I just had to try harder and wait longer. That may be the case sometimes, but I’m starting to understand that God often leaves the choice to us. He does not keep silent in order to frustrate us but instead, He is giving us the chance to take the wheel.
To take this “jazz band” illustration a step further, picture this: We are the bassist and God is the trumpeter, the lead instrument in this case. We play the bass notes and outline the basic chord. Then God steps in and plays the melody. The notes He plays not only create a stunning melody, but also add the final nuances to the chord, defining it completely.
In this illustration, each chord represents a phase of our life. God enters in and makes it meaningful and complete. The problem arises when it is time for a “chord change” – when we are faced with a decision in life. With so many choices and unknown outcomes, this can be very pressurising.
I believe that God guides us to give Him the right “chords changes” (representing our decisions) for Him to work with, to support the melody that He has in mind for our lives. Sometimes, He leaves it to us to decide what chord to change to next and then improvises over it. It is up to us to “read” Him on the fly make a decision. However, there is really no such thing as a wrong chord (or decision) as He is more than capable of accommodating any chord change beautifully, even if it involves altering the melody here and there. That is what music (and life) is all about. There is no chord or decision that we can throw at Him that will make him say “Oh, that’s wrong. You’re so messed up because I just can’t work with that”.
But this is not to say that we can live recklessly. Our decisions will have an effect on our lives. But out of His love and grace, God will find a way to make the outcomes of our decisions beautiful. He is by no means limited to “playing the same notes” in our life. He is infinitely creative and innovative – He created creativity. Many times He will prompt us to make our own decisions but even if we fail miserably, He will always be there to make it work out beautifully.
I think of our Lord as the ultimate lead musician. As I’m fumbling with the chords, He is turning each seemingly wrong chord into a very right one. As I’m making decisions in my life, He is causing every one of them to result in splendour. In life, some choices may be better than others. But with God’s grace, there is really no such thing as a wrong decision.