God's Jazz Band

The word ecstasy comes to mind. Yet words alone miserably fail to even begin to adequately convey the experience, the emotion, the joy. Translating such things into words cheapens and diminishes the expansiveness of what the heart is designed to do with great ease. Yet words – the product of left-brain translation of realities only perceivable by the right-brain – do at times help to capture for more permanent record and recall, things that may easily evaporate and disappear if not otherwise recorded in some fashion.

But words are terrible and ugly and crude when compared to what the heart knows to be real and true. On the other hand, music is a far better medium for conveying such experience. Of course, composing music is also severely limited in most of us. But still, that is why God designed our brains to be able to listen with our right brain and understand the message of words when they are conveyed with music. This is the interesting exception for words in the right brain, for otherwise spoken words are just so much noise to the right brain when just spoken. Yet in our left-brain heavy world we chaff at such ideas, for we prefer everything be formatted uniformly in logical, verifiable, concise words so they can be proven or discredited.

But heart language defies such a rigid, stark, harsh environment. The heart was never designed by God to be so restrained and locked up in narrow confines of left-brain logic and language and the narrow parameters that define nearly all of our education and communication systems. Our heart was designed for spontaneity, for compulsiveness, for ecstasy, for joy beyond the ability of any left-brain capacity to experience or even describe. The right side of our brain (interestingly directly linked to our literal heart) is the part of our being that is designed for connecting with eternal realities. So it is no wonder that Satan has done so much to divert, hijack and/or destroy this most vital part of our makeup.

Just before I woke up this morning I had a dream that gave me a small taste of this right-brain expressiveness. I don't recall the context of the dream but I couldn't miss the impact it had on me. In my dream I somehow wanted to express my feelings of affection to God. In my attempt to do so, an old popular song, “You Are So Beautiful to Me” began pouring out of my heart. But since my heart is also what makes me uniquely different than everyone else, I found myself making up new lyrics and then changing the direction of the music on the fly as my inner desires and emotions suddenly found outlet.

Oh how I wish I could have had a recording device to capture that music as I felt myself suddenly released to express deep gratitude directly to God. I recall using words that included each person of the Godhead as the music flowed more spontaneously and the melody made unexpected changes from the original music. But I realized even while it was happening that this is the sort of language that defines much if not all of the communications in heaven all the time. Heaven is where spontaneity marks everyone's expressions and praise just flows freely from the heart in contrast to the dark, suppressive atmosphere we are so used to here on earth where it seems strange, out of place or even suspicious.

As I woke up with my heart glowing from this sudden new release for doing what it was designed by God to do, I felt overwhelmed with desire to experience this more often and more intentionally. I confess that over recent years as my left-brain beliefs about God have been radically changed from dark and terrifying notions about Him that have been challenged and displaced by fresh revelations from the Holy Spirit and His Word, my heart has begun to stir and awaken as old, unfamiliar circuits for the first time began to be energized. Again, it is impossible to convey with left-brain language what I experienced and continue to feel even while it is fading. But one thing is for sure, I believe this is what religion was supposed to be about before it got distorted into what it has become today.

This reminds me of a quotation from one of the leading founders of our church about the effects of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on those who had spent ten days in the upper room confessing and opening their hearts to each other and to God. As confirmation of heaven's love and approval suddenly unleashed on them what appeared to be flames of fire on their heads, they were shocked and awed by the nature of what suddenly became vividly clear to them.

The Spirit came upon the waiting, praying disciples with a fullness that reached every heart. The Infinite One revealed Himself in power to His church. It was as if for ages this influence had been held in restraint, and now Heaven rejoiced in being able to pour out upon the church the riches of the Spirit's grace. And under the influence of the Spirit, words of penitence and confession mingled with songs of praise for sins forgiven. Words of thanksgiving and of prophecy were heard. All heaven bent low to behold and to adore the wisdom of matchless, incomprehensible love. Lost in wonder, the apostles exclaimed, "Herein is love." They grasped the imparted gift. And what followed? The sword of the Spirit, newly edged with power and bathed in the lightnings of heaven, cut its way through unbelief. Thousands were converted in a day. {AA 38}

This is love! And this is what my heart and every human being's heart was designed to experience and what we all long to experience. This is what we were made for! This baptism of the Holy Spirit was not supposed to be a one-time or unique event in history to ponder over and study afterwards. No, this was a foretaste of how every human was originally designed to live all the time. I am convinced more and more that if I want to learn the language of heaven to be prepared to live in the joyful presence of all its inhabitants, I must experience the healing of my own heart that only God can do. This is not something intended to happen far off at some future time, but it must begin to happen now, each day as I choose to open my damaged, timid, wounded, even terrified heart to His healing love and allow Him to rewire and energize latent circuits and awaken new capacities within me that I have never known about before.

What I tasted in a tiny sense this morning is the experience I was designed to live in all the time. And as I consider how the combination of words and music opens up the heart/right-brain to clearer understanding, I can better appreciate why music is the very essence that defines heaven's atmosphere. Of course this music there is likely very different from what music has become here on earth. No surprise here, for Satan who used to be the lead musician of heaven is now doing everything he can to pervert, confuse and misdirect this God-designed part of our humanity.

While I don't have many answers, I do have questions that come to my mind about this. How does our innate need to give expression our uniqueness work with another innate need to synchronize with others? If you are not a musician my illustration might sound strange or even puzzling. Yet I have observed that much of the way we perform music is very controlling of our thinking and even our emotions to a great extent. Think about the way we do music in church or for that matter, even a stadium full of rock fans singing lustily along with their favorite stars. In both instances notice how the lock-step dictation of pre-planned music forces people into uniformity until they are so mindlessly carried along by the music that they sometimes lose control over their own emotions and thoughts. Either we sing along with very little notice as to what we are singing or we give ourselves over to the passions aroused in us that syncs us with nearly identical emotions to that in everyone around us.

But there is another side to this. Music that fails to coordinate to the music of those around us is dysfunctional and clashes. It is impossible to share in music with others meaningfully without also having a common awareness of certain rules that govern the expression of music. Things such as harmony and chord progression are all part of what defines what we think of as music. If we just strike off on our own and pay no attention to the music around us, it no longer is appealing or useful as music.

So how do these two sides work together in God's design for creation? How do we give unique expression in music for our individuality while at the same time conforming to the realities of what constitutes music while synchronizing to the expressions of others who have similar desire for expression?

Something comes to mind here that some may find strange. But while it may be one of the counterfeits of Satan, every counterfeit is only effective because it imitates something that is real and better. I think we might be able to find in this area insights or principles that I believe God created for this very purpose, even though we may have abused this thing we call music and often twist it to serve less noble purposes. What I am trying to say is what my own heart and mind have observed over the years from my own experience and exposure in this area of music and its ability to give us expressiveness.

There is a certain type of music referred to as jazz. And while I am aware of some of the negative effects of this kind of music, I have also been very intrigued by some of the fundamental principles that I discovered in it that makes it so appealing to many. Let me explain more if I can from my limited understanding of this form that is so popular with some musicians.

To listen to jazz music is different than to participate actively in it. That is the first point I want to make. This is true with most music and the point is still the same. But it is much more obvious when it comes to jazz, for part of the very essence that makes jazz unique is the uniqueness brought to it through the spontaneity of each person involved during its live performance.

Part of the problem with jazz involves a lot of unresolved tension produced by dissonant chords that are often left unresolved. But after visiting a friend one day who was explaining to me the construct of jazz music on his piano, I was amazed a few minutes later to discover that those same chords were used in some of the most beautiful, worshipful music that had long inspired me by one of my favorite artists that I had always assumed defined the extreme opposite of jazz. What I began to realize was that it was not so much the chords that makes jazz so irritating to many people, but it is the combination of dissonant chords left unresolved along with the speed and intensity of the music combined together that makes for a style of music that is often reflective of the inner tension and unresolved frustrations in the hearts of many who resonate to this music.

But the part of jazz that I find especially fascinating in relation to what I am seeing now as a method of heart expression from people learning to worship God, is the striking way in which jazz involves unique participation by each player during a live performance. One of the key elements of good jazz is the fact that each musician is given opportunity during a song to jump into the lead and just let it rip with whatever is flowing in their emotions using their instrument and skills. After that another person will jump into the lead to add their own flavor to the performance and then another and yet another. This is one of the things that makes this style of music so compelling especially for those who can be involved in its performance. Of course, equally important is the ability to back away from the lead and to then compliment which ever other person takes that position to make them sound even better.

Those listening appreciate this unique expressiveness of each musician and can enjoy how it all comes together in a tapestry of sound and excitement that is seldom ever the same twice. But that doesn't come close to the emotions felt by those directly involved in the band, for to really appreciate what jazz is all about you have to experience what it feels like to participate from the 'inside'.

Now I am aware that there can be serious problems from filling your life with pop jazz music. But as with every counterfeit that Satan has invented, there are principles involved here that imitate God's original design that has no problems What I sense here is an insight into something important, some fundamental principles that apply to how we live together as real Christians, principles that were very active in the lives of those believers around the time of Pentecost and that energized them so effectively.

This principle of joyful synchronizing with others who share common interests and follow principles of harmony in a similar cause as observed in a good jazz performance is just a small taste of what I believe the disciples experienced on the day of Pentecost. They were not all doing or saying or thinking in lockstep unison with one another like so much of our music. Yet everything they did and felt inside was all closely integrated by the context of the common love that was energizing them directly from God's throne. The result was what I might call the greatest jazz performance ever seen on this earth in history. It certainly drew a crowd of fans very quickly.

The 'music' the disciples 'played' that day (remember, this group was made up of 120 people both men and women) was truly heavenly music, heavenly jazz if I dare term it. But instead of being full of unresolved dissonance leaving people tense with their hearts filled with unresolved sin, this music had a clear message of ecstatic joy overflowing from hearts supercharged with the very presence of heaven.

Like good jazz players, each person in that company was not mimicking any other person, but in their expressions that contributed to the 'performance' they gave unique expression from their own perspective of the 'music' in ways that enhanced it and made it even more appealing. Like a jazz musician ripping away passionately on their instrument for a few bars while the rest back him up and give him support, each believer after Pentecost expressed their own heart's unique emotions in a new sense of freedom and joy they had never imagined possible before that day. Yet still they found themselves perfectly complementing the 'music' of everyone else who was part of their 'band.'

I don't know if this makes any sense to anyone else or just sounds like the ramblings of a heretic. But I do know that we were designed to live from our hearts (unlike most of what we have experienced thus far in life) and that we were also designed for unique expressions of God's presence in our lives while synchronizing and harmonizing in amazing, joyful, collective expressions with others that bring honor and glory and expression to God's heart.

Our confession of His faithfulness is Heaven's chosen agency for revealing Christ to the world. We are to acknowledge His grace as made known through the holy men of old; but that which will be most effectual is the testimony of our own experience. We are witnesses for God as we reveal in ourselves the working of a power that is divine. Every individual has a life distinct from all others, and an experience differing essentially from theirs. God desires that our praise shall ascend to Him, marked by our own individuality. These precious acknowledgments to the praise of the glory of His grace, when supported by a Christ-like life, have an irresistible power that works for the salvation of souls. {DA 347}

This individuality does not mean that we will not being expressing ourselves in concert with others. There is a distinct contrast between independence and individuality. Independence can produce divisiveness while individual expressions can blend with others to produce beautiful harmonies. What was seen on and for a time after the day of Pentecost was much like what can be seen or experienced in a good jazz band as an illustration of the blend of individuality and complementary affirmation. This is what we were designed for ultimately. To praise God more fully requires not only improving our capacity to give expression from our heart through our unique contribution, but an increasing ability to synchronize our contributions in ways that brings a sparkle of life and the beauty of harmony to everyone else's similar unique expressions of praise.

As I finish this laborious, left-brain attempt to translate into words what my heart could have communicated in just a few moments, I feel a bit worn out by the effort. I would much rather just do what I am describing instead of trying to translate it into left-brain speak. I want to learn heart-speak, to participate in heart-music, to be free to have heart expressions that draw me into the excitement of the rest of the band. I don't just want to talk about it but to be drawn in to play with God's jazz band where I will not only find fulfillment and joy as I experience the music with others but where my expressions of praise find resonance in the hearts of those around me who are also learning to play God's kind of jazz.

I realize the word jazz is very likely a strong and possibly offensive term to use for some. Its just that the uniqueness of this kind of music makes these principles more evident. And it is the principles that I am after here, not a recommendation for music that could end up making us very depressed.

What I am beginning to see is how my own heart is slowly awakening to what it was designed for. As God continues the healing and restoration in my life, I find my heart experimenting with things it never dared consider before or that was never possible while it was hiding in the dark. I am starting to feel a little more hopeful or capable of giving expression to things I never dared attempt before. At the same time I am keenly aware that I feel I am still at the starting line with many, many inhibitions to discard if I am ever to blend into the band.

Does it surprise me that after I finished writing this that as I read the reading for today I found it simply confirms what God is speaking to my heart? Although it has a different approach, the underlying principle is strikingly similar as far as listening to the same Source for the theme and rhythm of the music to keep everyone synchronized with each other. Here is what I just read.

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not …, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20.
Jesus Christ says, in effect, Don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me. The snare in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service, to rejoice in the fact that God has used you. You never can measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ. Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living water through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it. When once you are rightly related to God by salvation and sanctification, remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God; and by the reaction of your life on the circumstances around you, you will fulfill God’s purpose, as long as you keep in the light as God is in the light.
The tendency to-day is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived. The lodestar of the saint is God Himself, not estimated usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that Our Lord heeds in a man’s life is the relationship of worth to His Father. Jesus is bringing many sons to glory. (My Utmost for His Highest 8-30)

Father, thank-you for this fleeting taste of Your kind of freedom You just gave me in that dream this morning. You know the intensity of the emotions You aroused in my heart when I suddenly found expression for these growing feelings of gratitude and praise to You. How I long to be able to do this when I am awake too, and even more challenging, to do this when I am around other people. (Now that I have put this in words on paper people will assume that I am functioning at capacity. But what they don't realize is how fearful my heart still is deep inside, afraid of what others may think or say about me.)
Father, keep reminding me that all I need to focus on is what You think about me and what You are really like. I so appreciate the surprise encounters when You give me an unexpected hug or a sudden insight or just affirmation of Your love. You really are making headway in healing me, but I want to cooperate better so this healing could speed up considerably. But that's my opinions.
Keep me in Your love. Fill me with even more light, more joy, more humility and more freedom in the mind of Christ so that others will be able to hear the music of heaven in my life and will want to join the band too.


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