It's only March and I already haven't lived up to my personal goal of writing twice a month. To my defense, I think becoming a father is a pretty decent excuse :) However, in lieu, here's a couple posts over the next few days that I've had on my brain over the past couple months but couldn't write until now.
I've noticed something interesting as I've been in the shed lately, and that is that there are lots of really deep and fascinating things happening when we truly improvise. One of them I've been thinking about in particular is that we are getting to enjoy and experience a taste of what The Lord knows fully in the act of CREATING. Since He is the One who is the original creator and master improviser, the One who made the earth and the galaxies and everything in all existence (when none of that had ever existed before), improvising should remind us of how much greater of a creator God is than we are. He's infinitely more inspired, perfect in his execution, sovereignly knows and senses what will happen next in his creation like a master composer and improviser does, and even the smallest of his creations trumps our greatest or deepest improvisation that we could ever have. And so, the fact that God allows US to experience even just a bit of what it's like to CREATE like He does should humble us and produce serious awe and gratefulness in us.
God clearly wants us to know the delight and freedom He has in creating, but not so that we our enjoyment would end in the creating. This is idolatry. And unfortunately as musicians, there are a considerable more number of models of the idolatry of creation than there are of those that prize Him as the maker of creation. It's easy to see why...if you love to improvise you know the feelings of joy, childlikeness, and sheer ecstasy you have when you're truly creating. These are intense feelings we experience - ones that we want to experience over and over again - and so it's no wonder why so many musicians have, in their idolatry, forsaken everything to have them or keep them.
What's humbling here though is that, if we do this, we end up missing out on the original intent God had for the process of creation in our lives. We will have exchanged the glory of the the Creator for the glory of the creation:
"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator" - Romans 1:21-25
Yes it's true that the Father has ultimately made it so that we experience these thrilling feelings when we improvise. But isn't that first and foremost so that we would know His heart? If we experience these things, how much more intensely must God experience them! And so isn't this God giving us a window to know and see Him intimately, that our enjoyment ultimately find its end in how great HE is and not how great the process of "creation" is?
That we would get to experience just a hint of what God knows in creation is something we shouldn't take for granted. In fact, what more of a reminder do we improvising musicians have on a regular basis of how great God is, as well as the humble reality of how much more creative and artistic He is than we ever could be? This grounds us and roots us in at least part of what our creating was really meant to be about.