Introductory Note:

In my role as a spiritual director, it is my great privilege to be able to sit with people as they talk about their relationships with God. As I see the Spirit moving, I am amazed and awed by his unique work in each life, as no two stories are alike. God has gifted us each with our own individual personhood, and our relationships with him reflect that uniqueness and his incredible creativity.

Frank Laubach and Dallas Willard were two individuals who had a similar vision for the Christian journey. Both believed that God wanted to be a part of their lives on a moment to moment basis. They were convinced that their Lord wanted to be intimately involved in all they did. In the excerpts below, though they use different descriptions, both authors communicate the availability of a life in constant conversation with God.

Dick Baxter

Excerpt from The Divine Conspiracy

The King­dom Is Now at Hand” by Dal­las Willard

Jesus came among us to show and teach the life for which we were made. He came very gen­tly, opened access to the gov­er­nance of God with him, and set afoot a con­spir­a­cy of free­dom in truth among human beings. Hav­ing over­come death, he remains among us. By rely­ing on his word and pres­ence we are enabled to rein­te­grate the lit­tle realm that makes up our life into the infi­nite rule of God. And that is the eter­nal kind of life. Caught up in his active rule, our deeds become an ele­ment in God’s eter­nal his­to­ry. They are what God and we do togeth­er, mak­ing us part of his life and him a part of ours.

Ulti­mate real­i­ty” — to speak grand­ly — per­mits itself to be addressed and dealt with through the Son of man, Jesus. Indeed, by tak­ing the title Son of man, he staked his claim to be all that the human being was orig­i­nal­ly sup­posed to be — and sure­ly much more. Col­lo­qui­al­ly we might describe him as human­i­ty’s fair-haired boy,” the one who express­es its deep­est nature and on whom its hopes rest. Old­er the­olo­gians sober­ly referred to him as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive man” or the fed­er­al head” of humanity. 

We have not­ed how he entered human his­to­ry through the life of an ordi­nary fam­i­ly. But then, as God’s flash point in reignit­ing eter­nal life among us, he inducts us into the eter­nal kind of life that flows through him­self. He does this first by bring­ing that life to bear upon our needs, and then by dif­fus­ing it through­out our deeds — deeds done with expec­ta­tion that he and his Father will act with and in our actions. 

Because of so much mis­un­der­stand­ing on this par­tic­u­lar point, we must reem­pha­size that in speak­ing of the king­dom of the heav­ens being at hand,” Jesus was not speak­ing of some­thing that was about to hap­pen but had not yet hap­pened and might not.

In the course of human events there are always plen­ty of things that are on the hori­zon of pos­si­bil­i­ty but do not come about or that come about lat­er. And there cer­tain­ly is a dimen­sion of still future real­iza­tion of God’s rule. But the term eggiken—usu­al­ly trans­lat­ed as is at hand” or has drawn nigh” in such pas­sages as Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mark 1:15; and Luke 10:9, 11 — is a verb form indi­cat­ing a past and com­plet­ed action. It is best trans­lat­ed sim­ply has come.”

The real­i­ty of God’s rule, and all of the instru­men­tal­i­ties it involves, is present in action and avail­able with and through the per­son of Jesus. That is Jesus’ gospel. The obvi­ous present real­i­ty of the king­dom is what pro­voked the respons­es we have just dis­cussed. New Tes­ta­ment pas­sages make plain that this king­dom is not some­thing to be accept­ed” now and enjoyed lat­er, but some­thing to be entered now (Matt. 5:20; 18:3; John 3:3, 5). It is some­thing that already has flesh-and-blood cit­i­zens (John 18:36; Phil. 3:20) who have been trans­formed into it (Col. 1:13) and are fel­low work­ers in it (Col. 4:11).

The apos­tle Paul on one occa­sion describes it sim­ply as right­eous­ness and peace and joy” of a type that only occurs through the ener­giz­ing of the Holy Spir­it” (Rom. 14:17). That it is not of, or not derived from, this world or here” does not mean that it is not real or that it is not in this world (John 18:36). It is, as Jesus said, con­stant­ly in the midst of human life (Luke 17:21; cf. Deut. 7:21). Indeed, it means that it is more real and more present than any human arrange­ment could ever pos­si­bly be. 

Only One Thing Now and Undis­cov­ered Con­ti­nents of Spir­i­tu­al Liv­ing by Frank C. Laubach

Jan­u­ary 291930 

I feel sim­ply car­ried along each hour, doing my part in a plan which is far beyond myself. This sense of coop­er­a­tion with God in lit­tle things is what so aston­ish­es me, for I nev­er have felt it this way before. I need some­thing, and turn round to find it wait­ing for me. I must work, to be sure, but there is God work­ing along with me. To know this gives a sense of secu­ri­ty and assur­ance for the future which is also new to my life. I seem to have to make sure of only one thing now, and every oth­er thing takes care of itself,” or I pre­fer to say what is more true, God takes care of all the rest. My part is to live this hour in con­tin­u­ous inner con­ver­sa­tion with God and in per­fect respon­sive­ness to his will. To make this hour glo­ri­ous­ly rich. This seems to be all I need think about.

March 11930 

The sense of being led by an unseen hand which takes mine while anoth­er hand reach­es ahead and pre­pares the way, grows upon me dai­ly. I do not need to strain at all to find oppor­tu­ni­ty. It plies in upon me as the waves roll over the beach, and yet there is time to do some­thing about each opportunity. 


And I must wit­ness that peo­ple out­side are treat­ing me dif­fer­ent­ly. Obsta­cles which I once would have regard­ed as insur­mount­able are melt­ing away like a mirage. Peo­ple are becom­ing friend­ly who sus­pect­ed or neglect­ed me. I feel, I feel like one who has had his vio­lin out of tune with the orches­tra and at last is in har­mo­ny with the music of the uni­verse. As for me, I nev­er lived, I was half dead, I was a rot­ting tree, until I reached the place where I whol­ly, with utter hon­esty, resolved and then re-resolved that I would find God’s will, and I would do that will though every fiber in me said no, and I would win the bat­tle in my thoughts. It was as though some deep arte­sian well had been struck in my soul or souls and strength came forth. I do not claim suc­cess even for a day yet, in my mind, not com­plete suc­cess all day but some days are close to suc­cess, and every day is tin­gling with the joy of a glo­ri­ous dis­cov­ery. That thing is eter­nal. That thing is unde­feat­able. You and I shall soon blow away from our bod­ies. Mon­ey, praise, pover­ty, oppo­si­tion, these make no dif­fer­ence, for they will all alike be for­got­ten in a thou­sand years, but this spir­it which comes to a mind set upon con­tin­u­ous sur­ren­der, this spir­it is time­less life.

Willard, Dal­las. The Divine Con­spir­a­cy: Redis­cov­er­ing our Hid­den Life in God. Harper­One: New York, 1997. Pages 27 – 28.

Laubach, Frank. Let­ters By a Mod­ern Mys­tic. Mar­ti­no Pub­lish­ing: Mans­field Cen­tre, CT, 2012. Pages 12 – 13.

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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