A young man once asked Dallas Willard this question:
On normal days, what does your prayer life and daily rhythm look like?
After that quintessential and thoughtful pause of his, Dallas carefully offered this response:
There are very few normal days for anyone, especially in our world. So you have to be careful with that question. Let me say what is a constant that I can do everyday no matter what’s happening. Normally when I wake, I will work through the Lord’s Prayer and the Twenty-third Psalm one or more times. By work through it, I mean not just rattling it off. I start with “Our Father who art in Heaven.” Now I just stay there a while, letting that soak in. I think about what Our Father is like. He isn’t “my boss who art in in Heaven” or “my eternal scrutinizer who art in heaven.” No, He is our loving Father in Heaven. Finally, when I sit to get out of bed, I proclaim, “God is here.” I announce that. I recognize (and take heart) in the presence of God…
There are indeed very few normal days. Yet there is a constant available to me every day: the intentional recognition of the Goodness and Greatness of God, our Father and Teacher.
God, my True, Generous, and Loving Father,
I ask for one thing, only one thing:
To live this day and my whole life long at Your Side, in Your House, and within Your Story.
I remember what You are like.
I contemplate Your beauty, Your provision, and Your Reality.
I proclaim I am Your student and You are my teacher.
I am Your son and You are my Good, Good Father. (paraphrase, Psalm 27:4)
Dallas goes on in The Renovation of the Heart to offer this thought:
Jesus invites us to leave our way of heavy labor, especially religious ones. And step into the yoke of training with Him…The easy yoke is the way of inner transformation…The perceived distance and difficulty of entering fully into the divine world and its life is due entirely to our failure to understand that the way in is the way of pervasive inner transformation and to take the small steps that quietly and certainly lead to it.
Take a moment to read this sentence again: “The easy yoke of Jesus is the way of inner transformation. The perceived distance and difficulty of entering fully into the divine world and its life is due entirely to our failure to understand that the way in is the way of pervasive inner transformation and to take the small steps that quietly and certainly lead to it.”
What is your reaction to this sentence?
How would you answer the question: Why does entering fully into the divine world and its life seem to be so hard and unattainable?
What do you think about Dallas’s suggestion that the reason it seems so unattainable is because we have failed to understand that the way “in” is the way of pervasive inner transformation? How have you been trying to get “into the divine world and its life”? How has that been working for you? Why would inner transformation be an easy yoke? What is your reaction to the idea that there could be “small steps” that you could readily take that would quietly and certainly lead you into the world of God and His life?
For me, I realize how hard I have been trying to get “in” in a myriad of other ways. But what if the primary way in is simply, joyously, and soberly stepping into the easy yoke of training with Jesus and taking the slow and steady steps of learning from Him how to live in His Kingdom in dependence upon Our Father and receiving His powerful action to effectively and pervasively transform my inmost being to resemble His?
One of the small steps Jesus leads me to is immersion in the great writing of good people.
Now and then I have offered a handful of books I recommend as you continue your journey of consent to our Father as His son to be His student. While there are many more I could suggest (see some previous book recommendations at Become Good Soil), here are a few books that have been particularly nourishing and re-informing in this past year. May these recommendations strengthen you in the easy yoke with Jesus as you take, in His power, the “small steps that quietly and certainly lead to [inner transformation].”
This collection builds upon the foundation of our treasure chest of great resources at Ransomed Heart. Now through December 9th, 2016, every order at RansomedHeart.com you place will automatically be 50 percent off.
Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard
Renovation of the Heart, a bestseller by Dallas Willard, explains the common misunderstandings about human nature and the discipleship process by outlining the general pattern of personal spiritual transformation…” (more detail here)
The Social Animal by David Brooks
“David Brooks has written an absolutely fascinating book about how we form our emotions and character. Standing at the intersection of brain science and sociology, and writing with the wry wit of a James Thurber, he explores the unconscious mind and how it shapes the way we eat, love, live, vacation, and relate to other people…” (more detail here)
Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge
Reading the Gospels without knowing the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off. The result is a dry, two-dimensional person doing strange, undecipherable things. But when we discover his true character—this man who made the wind, music and flying squirrels—suddenly all of the remarkable qualities of Jesus burst forth with color and brilliance like fireworks. Breaking Jesus out of the typical stereotypes, Beautiful Outlaw welcomes readers into the rich emotional life of Christ, showing how they can experience the actual personality of Jesus in their daily lives in ways that will deepen their faith. (Amazon description)
Tribe by Sebastian Junger
Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Tribe explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning… (more detail here)
Preparing for Heaven by Gary Black Jr.
C.S. Lewis once said, “There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often, I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”
In his acclaimed books, renowned writer, speaker, and philosophy professor Dallas Willard explored the nature of Christian life in God’s Kingdom… (more detail here)
Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth… (more detail here)
Living in Christ’s Presence by Dallas Willard
In these pages Dallas Willard explores what it means to live well now in light of God’s kingdom… (more detail here)
Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard
What if you were handed a golden ticket that could magically start your life anew?… (more detail here)
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
In this inspirational work which seamlessly weaves keen clinical observation, neuroscience, historical analysis, the arts, and personal narrative, Dr. van der Kolk has created an authoritative guide to the effects of trauma, and pathways to recovery… (more detail here)
War by Sebastian Junger
In War, Sebastian Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat—the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another… (more detail here)
Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians by James Gilchrist Lawson
Recommended by John Eldredge and Dallas Willard, this book is a collection of stories from man of ages past who have recovered the Ancient Path. It provides story after story of the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of ordinary people and inviting them up to an extraordinary life as they take their place in the Kingdom of God. (more detail here)
JUST FOR JOY…
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (video)
It was Lewis who said, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” Mentor Richard Foster further adds, “Joy, not grit, is the hallmark of holy obedience. We need to be light-hearted in what we do to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. It is a cheerful revolt against self and pride.”
This is the Movie of the Year in the Snyder household. May it bring some joy to your clan in this season.