Of Jazz and Jesus. [And Becoming Captivated by Both.]

“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” –Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

I knew a really, really incredible saxophone player in college. Watching him play jazz over the course of four years made this quote come brilliantly alive for me. When this guy plays, it’s with an all-consuming reckless abandon that makes even the most distracted of listeners forget to breathe, and before you know it you’ve fallen in love with a song that you’ve listened to a myriad of times before but never really heard. It only takes the first two or three bars of “Rhapsody in Blue” for you to suddenly feel as though vibrant color has been abruptly, garishly, wildly and delightfully splashed all over what was only moments ago a very black-and-white world. You feel absolutely alive-as if you have finally woken up! Everything is more beautiful when that man picks up his saxophone.

A man playing his sax by the Seine on a frigid night in Paris. I loved listening to him.

 I want to love Jesus like that sax player loves jazz.

People should look at the way that I talk about Jesus, the way that I joyfully value and wholeheartedly adore Him, and see the same compelling, irresistible passion that everyone listening to that sax player instantaneously sees after his first riff. They should look at the way that I recklessly, entirely love the God that redeemed me and fall in love with Him too. If it’s difficult to connect the way that I love Jesus to the way that that saxophonist loves his music, something is gravely amiss. There is nothing sedated or half-hearted about Jesus’ relentless, passionate pursuit of me-my response should be nothing short of an all-consuming, glorious celebration of the fact that I am greatly treasured and desired by the God of the Universe!

Watching that sax player for four years helped me to better understand what it looks like for my life to be a worshipful celebration of something that has captured and enthralled every piece of me.

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