Dallas Willard has been instrumental in my life at helping me move from being simply someone who says that believe in Jesus, to someone who actively and intimately loves Christ Jesus. I was presented with Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy at a point in my life when I was heavily considering walking away from my calling into ministry. I was done. I didn’t want to go down that path anymore. I still “believed in Jesus”, whatever that really means, but I didn’t find significance or purpose in ministry. I’d rather just watch from the sidelines. Exposure to Willard’s books changed all that. Not that Willard pushed the for call back into ministry, but his explanation of the intimacy found in Christ Jesus and what he means to truly follow Him, helped me to see life through a new lens, a new perspective. I will forever be grateful and thankful for Dallas Willard.
When Dallas Willard died in May of 2013 I was heartbroken. No one knew it until today, but I cried in my car on my way to work after finding out. Although I knew Dallas was experiencing the wonderful presence of Christ, I grieved the loss of an incredible man of God and the end to his books and teachings.
Thankfully, through the work of Gary Black Jr., Gary Moon, John Ortberg, Jan Johnson, and more, Dallas’ influence and work has continued.
Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 is another beautiful continuation and extension of Willard’s work posthumously. Through the efforts and collaboration of Larry Burtoft (a friend of Willard) and Becky Willard Heatley (Willard’s daughter) another public addition to Willard’s catalogue has been preserved.
Life Without Lack is a compilation of Willard’s eight-week teachings series on Psalm 23 originally taught in early 1991 to a group of roughly thirty people at Valley Vista Christian Community. The teaching was preserved on cassette tape, and transposed into this book, a project that Burtoft had planned on for years, but never found fruition until after Willard’s death. As a Dallas Willard enthusiast, I was absolutely delighted to hear the news of the release of this book.
The book is broken into eight chapters, which follow the eight original teaching sessions. Each chapter richly and deeply defines and explains life with God, through the context of God’s ever-present character. Psalm 23 provides the foundation of the teaching yet is not overly expounded. If one were looking for a commentary on Psalm 23, this is not the book for that. What is elucidated is the fact that the Good Shepherd as described in Psalm 23, offers true freedom and peace in an intimate relationship with Him.
Life Without Lack is meaty. It is not a quick read. It is a book that is meant to take time to digest, time to apply to one’s life, and time to dwell upon. This is not a new concept to those who are familiar with Willard. For me, at least, while reading Willard, to read and re-read the same chapter in a sitting, is commonplace. Good content takes time and reflection to grasp and process.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. Read it slowly. Read it purposely. And read it with the hopeful expectation that you’ll be enlightened, encouraged, and invigorated by it. May you grow deeper in your relationship with Christ Jesus through it. If this is your very first Dallas Willard book, then I recommend you borrow or purchase Hearing God, The Spirit of the Disciplines, The Divine Conspiracy, or Renovation of the Heart to read beforehand or closely afterward. Dallas Willard writes and speaks with a breadth of knowledge, worth taking the time to ponder and apply.
Disclaimer: I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher. (This in no way affected my honest review of the book)