Recently it was the third anniversary of Dallas Willard’s death so Kristi and I have been remembering him and thanking God for his influence in our lives.
It’s easy to be impressed with Dallas’ great intellect and his achievements as a philosophy professor and Christian author. But of all the ways Dallas impacted me the biggest was his simple message: “God is here!”
It’s Jesus’ Gospel: “Re-think how you’re living your life in light of your opportunity to do whatever you’re doing in the Kingdom of the Heavens.” (Matthew 4:17, paraphrase)
“The heavens are not far way,” Dallas liked to say, “they touch on down to earth so step inside!”
God is Here So We Can Rejoice!
As the Psalmist says, “The nearness of God is my good!” (Psalm 73:28, NASB)
I’m sure you believe that. But I’m also sure that there are times that actually you don’t. Fear grips you. Pain won’t go away despite your prayers. You drink too much alcohol. The line at the grocery store is taking forever. You say judgmental things about someone. It’s easy to say we believe that God is close and caring but not operate on that belief in certain situations.
So when Dallas awoke in the morning he liked to say, “God is here!”
I saw the presence of God coming off of his body. Literally.
“We minister the Kingdom of God from our bodies,” he liked to say. So he taught the importance of habituating our bodies to rely on God and rejoice in him.
For instance, often I met privately with him for spiritual care and mentoring I’d be waiting outside his office in the Mud Hall of Philosophy at USC and I’d hear footsteps and joyful songs echoing down the hallway. It was Dallas humming hymns of praise and his face was radiant with the love of Christ.
God is Here Even in Our Trials
Some people criticized Dallas as a boring speaker. He wasn’t flashy or glitzy. He didn’t necessarily follow the conventional wisdom for public speakers but simply spoke truth in a plain and calm manner. He admitted that he wasn’t trying to be a good speaker — he only wanted to draw our attention to what the Lord Jesus was saying.
A number of times I saw him getting criticized by people in his audience. He always listened with non-defensiveness and sincere compassion. Later I learned he like to put his hands behind his back when he spoke to remind himself to remain in a posture of vulnerability and prayer. He didn’t need everyone to like him because he was finding refuge in the Lord.
It was the same with his personal trials and challenges. Sometimes he shared with me in confidence and asked me to pray for particular needs that he or his family had. Even in difficult or painful situations he had a calm confidence that God was actively doing something good, even if it wasn’t yet apparent.
God is Here For You!
Imagine singing or smiling with the Psalmist and the Spirit of Jesus Christ, “The nearness of God is my good!” You could develop a habit of praying something like that first thing in the morning and off and on throughout your day.
Oh, friends, truly God is our Sweet Sufficiency at all times!