Crabb: Stop the pain, that’s your job. And if you don’t do your job, I have every right to go to some other source that will, be it alcohol or pornography. That’s wailing in your bed, just a complaint against God. [We may feel that] now that I’m a Christian, your job is to make my life go better. Crying from your heart, I think, is just recognition, Dallas, of what you talk about so effectively–personal lostness. [Even as Christians] we still struggle with, “Am I in line with the kingdom? Am I living out the life of Jesus?” And when the answer is “No!” you realize that there is just an emptiness within you, and you can go no place but to God. And then you realize that you are not going to God in a manipulative manner, saying, “I’m empty; fill me.” But there is rightness about it [the way you approach him] now. [You are saying] “God, you’re it. You’re perfect. You’re glorious, and I want to know you better. And I believe a benefit of [knowing you] will be there will be joy, there will be love, there will be peace, but I’m not going to require [them] on a timetable. This is just the right thing to do.” That’s what the heart cries for; that’s crying from your heart....

 

Spiritual Formation and the Thought Life

 

Crabb: We talk about spiritual formation and I feel like a guy that weighs 400 pounds trying to tell how to lose weight. If I’m going to talk about this, engage with this, I’ve got to make it practical for me. For years I’ve hated the word “practical.” I seemed to reduce it to a recipe theology or a formula: do this, and this will happen in a very linear kind of way. But recently, I’ve come to realize that “practical” is a good word. Certainly the Lord was not impractical. There is a mysticism that is appropriate to Christianity. There is an experiential element that is crucial, experiencing God, but there are things we can do; and, Dallas, you talk about the various components of the self. You talk about the way we think, and Paul makes it clear in Romans 12, we are transformed by something to do with our minds being renewed. And a question I want to ask both of you, in your own journeys of Spiritual Formation: if the thought life is as crucial as what we believe, how do we put on the mind of Christ? That’s crucial to spiritual formation. What do you do for this to happen?

 

Willard: Well, just briefly, what I do, and I do this constantly, is I try to put the stuff in Scripture and in theology into plain language. To me, this is one of the most helpful things I can do, to give a sense of reality to the things in Scripture.

 

Crabb: Can you illustrate that?

 

Willard: Yeah, take the idea of the kingdom of God itself, which is quite abstract.

 

Crabb: Most Christians have heard the phrase and have an image of a celestial city.

 

Willard: That’s what we are thinking about. Translate into energy and try to think about energy in some connection to what you learned in physics. Capacity to do work.