catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 3 :: 2007.02.09 — 2007.02.23


Practice makes perfect

When God asked Moses to speak to Bezalel way back in Exodus 35:30, God commissioned crafts for His temple.  Bezalel entered into his vocation as a creator responsible but hopefully also responsive to the Spirit of God put within him.

What if what you make isn’t physically something to be admired but ephemeral, only for that moment?  Paul adds to this thought in his Mars hill discourse, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else" (Acts 17:24-25).

It takes the breath of God to allow music to resonate, his spirit with ours.  “He is the air I breathe, your Holy Presence, living in me.”  This line from a modern chorus is the heart's cry of the performer.  Using hands to create a moment in time with sound, meter and phrasing is the expression of what is already put within us by the creator.

A concert violinist, also a short term missionary in East Asia, was asked by students there, “Do you only play to prepare for your performances, or do you ever play just for yourself?”  My talented friend answered, “I spent time on the phone saying goodbye to my father who was dying.  I was at the concert hall preparing for a performance.  Between the phone call and playing the concert I stepped into a quiet place and played Bach.  It was a prayer.”  Oh that our times of creating could be so rich!  This story creates a longing in me to enter into this place of creation even as I practice the piano, taking lessons for the first time in 40 years.

The calling to create is a holy calling.  I believe we all have it because we were created by the Creator. As a child, my only practice goal was the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.”  The pressure created by the expectations of perfection through repetition marred my ability to perform. This adage, though seemingly hopeful, created fear through self-judgment.  When had I done enough practicing, why wasn’t the music perfect? When we judge our own efforts, we make those opinions God. We rob ourselves of true communication with our Creator.

Where do Christian practices/disciplines intersect with our creative life? Can they be the key to unlocking our demanding, rule-based opinions of ourselves?  One of my goals currently in prayer and in fellowship is to become a better listener.  I have started to apply this goal to my music making as well.  How will this goal be measured?  I don’t know. I do know that my focus has changed.  My thinking is less focused on my abilities and opinions and more hopeful in my relationship with God.  I can trust Him to be involved in my process of creation.

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