On January 5, 2018 I was at lunch with some friends when I got a call from my doctor’s office. My liver enzymes had spiked ten-fold from the low-average level they had maintained throughout my sixteen year journey with cancer. At that point I was already a full year beyond the average life expectancy for a person with breast cancer metastasized to the liver and lungs, and I was well aware that I had been living on borrowed time.
As I processed the news of dramatically elevated enzymes my first thought was “I made my burial arrangements last fall, so I’m good to go.” (Previously, each time I learned of cancer progression I would think, “I really need to make my funeral arrangements.”)
My second thought: “I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death without fearing evil.”
My third thought: “I wish everyone I love could walk in peace as life in this world draws to a close.”
It wasn’t a conscious prayer, but the Lord still heard the cry of my heart and answered.
Just four days later, on January 9, I was offered an advance copy of Dallas Willard’s most recent book—Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of the 23rd Psalm.
Now, I know that five years ago I gave away to friends at least fifteen copies of The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard; I convinced about the same number of people to buy it for themselves; I recommended it to I-don’t-know-how-many others (including strangers in a check-out line); and I even led a small group study based on the book. Alas, as far as I know, only one person entered fully into the delight and wonder I found in Dallas Willard’s teaching. And yet, I am undaunted by the tepid/bewildered response to my enthusiasm in the past. I am compelled by the Spirit to share another Dallas Willard treasure with anyone who just might listen.
Here is the review I posted on Amazon on February 27 when Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 became officially available for purchase. (You don’t have to rely on my opinion alone; there are now 103 reviews.)
Through the skillful editing of his daughter and his friend, Dallas Willard has given the church a book for all who long to follow Christ more than they long for anything else.
The Divine Conspiracy is God’s master plan for his people throughout the entire course of human history. Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 is a practical guide for any individual who wants to live in daily intimacy with Jesus. Larry Burtoft and Becky Heatly have transformed spoken words from one of our generation’s best teachers into a book that captures both his voice and his wisdom. Dallas marks a path through the twenty-third psalm that the youngest believer can follow. At the same time he reveals endless horizons of peace and joy to delight the heart of the most mature saint.
As I read through the first time, I imagined Jesus asking, “Dallas, do you love me more than these?” After Dallas answers simply, “Yes, Lord, I do,” Jesus repeats the charge that follows the question: “Feed my lambs.” And so Dallas shows us plainly that the Lord is our Shepherd who will supply all our needs in abundance.
If you don’t see how a Life Without Lack is possible, Dallas will guide you step by step until you do. The process is relatively simple, but you must commit completely. You must surrender your life to the transforming work of the Spirit. If you have already surrendered your life completely to the Spirit, Life Without Lack may bless you with a fuller understanding of God’s design in the transformation process, a greater appreciation for the necessity of personal effort, and a deeper trust in the One who made transformation possible. But perhaps the most important blessing could be that you will learn how to better nourish any little lambs in your care.
If you love Jesus, I think you will be pleased with this book.
Whether you or not you purchase and read Life Without Lack, I am content because God, in his infinite grace and love, has assured me that everyone I love can walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fearing evil. He sweetly reminded me yet again that he is my Shepherd and I shall not want.
Since my liver enzymes started climbing in January, I have had one MRI, two CT scans, and I-don’t-know-how-many blood tests. After a trip to Pittsburgh for a second opinion, I had a port placed on June 22, and started IV chemotherapy on June 25 with no end to treatment in sight.
Because of the cancer in my body, I am constantly aware of the reality that life in this world is drawing to a close. Whether my remaining time is measured in minutes or decades, I look forward to learning with friends and family how to live fully in the blessings and abundance that the Lord pours out generously without finding fault.
I look forward to watching the Lord bring hope and healing to our divided nation as His children learn to live without lack.