Especially this year, some question why a perfect, loving God is allowing all this chaos. I’ve often heard God’s movements in time likened to the back of a tapestry. While it looks like a mess on the back, on the other side it is a beautiful piece of art. God is said to be creating his perfect will out of chaos, but at the time we can only see the back of the tapestry. I prefer to compare God’s sovereignty to one of Bach’s fugues.
Art of the Fugue
Before I begin my allegory, I should explain this musical form, the fugue. I realize it’s probably not on most folks top ten listening pleasure lists. Perhaps that will change after you read this blog!
I love all kinds of music, but my favorite composer is Johann Sebastian Bach, the giant of the baroque era. I like his fugues, but learning to play them is a challenge. First one simple melody is introduced. Then another melody enters. Other “voices” (melody lines) enter, repeating the two main themes in various ways. The trick for the pianist is to bring out the melody notes wherever they occur in that mishmash of interweaving notes. Sounds like making musical gumbo, but the result is awesome. Here’s a link to Bach’s Fugue in g minor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZd2q3BYPwI
Baroque fugue rhythm is “propulsive.” It chugs along without slowing, not even at the end. However, many musicians slow some measures because they prefer the effect and almost universally, at the end. This is still debated. A purist would not change tempo, but others prefer the effect — purist or non-purist?
We are God’s Fugue
So why this lesson in Bach’s Fugue and how does it relate to God’s sovereignty?
♪ Bach did not write one unnecessary note. Although he uses many strains of melody at once to create polyphony, (many interweaving voices), each note has a purpose. So too, God did not create one person that does not have value. He loves every one of us and when we unite with him through Christ, he empowers us to cooperate with him to fulfill our unique purpose. None of us, no matter the number of our sins, are unnecessary—ever.
♪ There are masses of notes in that g minor fugue, but each contributes to a coherent whole. Our lives today, indeed our world, seems beyond messy and overwhelming, but God knows what he is doing. Just as each note in Bach’s fugue fits into the whole, everything in the sea of current events fits God’s plan—even the discord.
♪ Because many baroque instruments, such as the harpsichord, cannot play louder or softer to create mood and tension, composers used discord, followed by resolution instead.
♪ The rhythm is propulsive. I don’t know about you, but my life does not slow down, even when I am Covid housebound. World events don’t slow either. I told someone I did not believe there was a writer alive who could jam what’s happening today into one novel! Events, sometimes terrifying, will continue without slowing until Jesus comes again and establishes the final, perfect resolution.
♪ Finally, there are “grace notes.” They are tiny notes written above the main note. The musician quickly slips from the grace note onto the main note. Here’s a great example. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2dS96Fblxk I sometimes think of tiny grace notes as little children who die before their time. They bring such grace and bless our lives for the blink of time they live. God loves them no less than others.
I believe all events, now and in the future, fall within God’s inscrutable will. It appears to be a constant tangle of good, bad, and miraculous things happening with no let-up. We live with growing tension and cry for resolution. Faith tells us in the end Jesus will create a new heaven and earth. Meanwhile, let us sound our special note with all our hearts for our Divine Composer.