by Bishop Todd Hunter
As I was listening to an interview with Ruth Naomi Floyd, she alluded to a quote from Miles Davis:
“It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.”
This points to an encouraging aspect of grace—we always have another opportunity. That chance is in the next beat, the next measure.
Along this same line, I heard Dallas Willard answer the question: “Where do I start in the spiritual life?”
He said, “Just do the next right thing you know you ought to do…” Just the best you can, without harsh judgment of yourself, just notice God and the people and events of your life. If a kind word is needed—speak it. If a victim needs an advocate—take a step in that direction.
The key here is this: the goodness of life in the kingdom is self-authenticating. There can be no other way. Otherwise, even the powerful teachings of Jesus are just notions, ideas, concepts, philosophies. You will know Jesus is good, and that loving neighbors and enemies is deeply human, when you try it. Taste and see—play the next note.
Sometimes there is a rest before the next note, a pause or interval of silence in the music. Embrace this. It is the moment of awareness, of discernment. In this rest, we discover that God did not abandon us in moments of our sinful past. In the pause, we recognize that God is in the present with us, shaping disordered desires in the direction of godliness, gently bending our will to his.
In the silence—no notes being played—we gain confidence that God will meet us in the future—a future determined by the next note we play.
Below is the conversation I enjoyed listening to with Ruth Naomi Floyd.