Dallas Willard, 1935 – 2013
“Not even Jesus got a resurrection without a death, and he’ll be at your side when you surrender your old life. Trust me on this. If you die with Jesus Christ, God will walk you out of your tomb into a life of incomparable joy and purpose inside his boundless and competent love.” (Dallas Willard, Christianity Today, 2008)
Dallas Willard died yesterday, and has been walked out of his tomb into the life he so vividly described to us; the life he saw dimly, he is now experiencing fully.
I had the unexpected pleasure of spending a weekend with Dallas and a few others in 2007. There were lots of deep conversations, but what I remember most happened during a bathroom break.
I was walking towards the bathroom, and Dallas was a few steps ahead of me. I was feeling a little awkward, because being in the bathroom at the same time as Dallas Willard is not really something that was on my bucket list.
But then I noticed that he was whistling. He was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant philosophical and theological minds of our time, and there won’t be another one like him. And he whistled when he walked from here to there. His spirit was light and care-free. Whimsical, even.
I did not know Dallas Willard; I only spent a few days with him. But during that time, he laughed easily. He walked slowly. He seemed to have all the time in the world. He listened as if you were the only person alive.
Perhaps this one quote sums up what I believe Willard lived and taught:
“Jesus’ enduring relevance is based on his historically proven ability to speak to, to heal and empower the individual human condition. He matters because of what he brought and what he still brings to ordinary human beings, living their ordinary lives and coping daily with their surroundings. He promises wholeness for their lives. In sharing our weakness, he gives us strength and imparts through his companionship a life that has the quality of eternity.” (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, page 13)
I’m told his last words were, “thank you.”
Thank you, Dallas.