“The ball is, as it were, in our court. God has invaded human history and reality. Jesus Christ has died on our behalf, is risen, and is now supervising events on earth toward an end that he will certainly bring to pass, to the glory of God. The issue now concerns what we will do.” – Dallas Willard, from Renovation of the Heart. Everyone gets a spiritual formation. Whether good or bad, from our parents or simply our experiences in the world, we all get one. Often there are more aspects to our formation which need to be unlearned instead of kept. Some habits simply need to die.
If a batter in baseball struggles to keep their eye on a pitch, there is an exercise where a baseball is put under their chin to keep their head down. This keeps their eyes where they need to be.
When runners prepare for a marathon, they don’t start with the 26.2 miles all at once. They work towards this goal; muscles and breathing patterns learning how to work in sync together.
Growth in Christian spiritual formation only happens when we recognize there are habits and sin patterns in our lives that need to die. Or as Jesus so clearly says, to deny oneself. This involves a constant, daily practice of asking “what is God asking of me today?” instead of, “how do I get to think for myself today?” Dallas Willard teaches that this death to self is the indispensable foundation to our soul’s restoration.
Dying to ourselves is not losing our identity, instead it is becoming more of who God intends for us to be. We learn to shed the habit patterns we’ve accumulated over time and let God’s grace invade, desiring what God wants.
Whether it’s a baseball under your chin, marathoners learning pace, or Christian spiritual formation, it requires a “death” to harmful patterns, trusting God will make us who He intends for us to be.
And that’s the Memo.