Many times you can have a mentor who is an author – whose writings shape your perspective and understanding. Rarely do you have the opportunity to meet the author and interact with them personally. Fortunately I was able to meet this mentor/author, but only once. This solitary meeting left an imprint on my soul. In early 2010 I had the honor of meeting and speaking with Dallas Willard, who passed away today after a battle with cancer. I post this out of gratitude for his life and how he drew me, and many others, to Jesus.
It was early 2010 when I met Dallas. I was not in the greatest personal space. It was one of the hardest times of my journey. We met at a conference in Washington, D.C. where he was speaking to a group of pastors and planters – less than 150 of us. I’ll never forget sitting in his sessions having to make the choice of trying to write down everything he said or simply just sit and experience the God he spoke of. He didn’t waste a word. As I reflect back on that experience I now know what drew me to him – what caused me to hang on his every word. It was Christ in him. As a philosopher he could’ve talked theory and theology all day long – but instead he spoke intimately of the God he knew and loved – the God who knew and loved him.
During a break I remember approaching him and saying something to the effect of, “I feel like I’m losing all that I’ve known, but I’m feeling more alive.” A big smile came over his face as he said to me, “That sounds about right.” As he closed that conference he thanked the 150 of us there with tears in his eyes, calling us beautiful people. He thanked us, yet we were indebted to him.
I’ve read plenty of his books, but what sticks with me is the 5 minute conversation we had. First hand I can say he helped me know Jesus better – and now he knows Jesus fully.
Thank you God for the gift of Dallas Willard. May you give the world more like him who know you so well.