A long time ago in my corporate Best Buy days, one of my managers gave me a bit of advice that I’ll never forget: “You can’t control what happens, you can only control how you respond.”
At the beginning of October I traveled to Loveland Colorado for the IT3 Summit, a conference of sorts for those who plan Group Publishing’s 2014 Simply Youth Ministry Conference. In addition to conference prep and community, my favorite part of the Summit the “Rick Lawrence Experience.” If you’ve been to SYMC, you’ll know Rick because of his crazy Sunday antics, usually involving mirrors, balloons, paper airplanes. Essentially, if you’ve had an object lesson go awry, Rick has probably done it first.
On Tuesday morning at Summit (and clearly with the goal of annoying me) Rick showed us a TED Talk involving improvisational jazz (you should watch it):
I’ve been awake since 1:15am, and I cannot get this video out of my mind (It’s now 4am). The assertion of Stefon Harris is this, “many actions are perceived as mistakes only because we do not react to them appropriately.” This is known as discordance.
Life is frequently filled with what we might call “discordant notes.” Sometimes, you move to another state and a new ministry, and your house never sells, only to go into foreclosure. Sometimes, your wife gets cancer. Sometimes, someone hits the wrong key as you’re making music together.
Discordance happens. And the only questions that matter are: “How will we respond in the midst of discordance?” “Will we notice the discordance?” “Will we allow it to distract from the song of our lives being played?”
For the follower of Christ, the challenge is to view discordant notes as God might. God flows with the discordance, not as a distant Deist, but as an engaged and interactive Jazz Band Leader who utilizes the discordance for His glory and our good. God is not fazed by the discordance of humanity. He’s not surprised, not caught off guard. As Stefon states in the video, “A note is only bad if you don’t resolve it properly.”
God is the Resolver. And it is in the discordance of life that His grace, mercy and peace are resolved.
I’ve never been more thankful for jazz, discordance, Rick and his shenanigans, or God as “Resolver.”