Dallas and I used to play a game. I would ask him for definitions of all kinds of words. And every definition would contain a clarity and freshness and precision that would require folks to sit and reflect for a while. “Hey Dallas . . . ,” and then I’d ask him about any word or concept that mattered, and would receive a brief education in the possibilities of redeemed thought.
The word spirit. “Disembodied personal power.”
Beauty. “Goodness made manifest to the senses.”Maturity
A disciple is “anyone whose ultimate goal is to live as Jesus would live if he were in their place.”
Dignity is “a value that creates irreplaceability.” (This one, he graciously attributed to Immanuel Kant.)
“Hey Dallas, what is reality?”
“Reality is what you can count on.”
“Hey Dallas, what is pain?””Pain is what you experience when you bump into reality.”
“What is spiritual maturity?”
“The mature disciple is one who effortlessly does what Jesus would do in his or her place.”
“What exactly does it mean to glorify God?”
“To glorify God means to think and act in such a way that the goodness, greatness, and beauty of God are constantly obvious to ourselves and all those around us. It means to live in such a way that when people see us they think, Thank God for God, if God would create such a life.”
Somebody once said of Dallas: “I’d like to live in his time zone.” During one of his lectures, a listener challenged him with statements that were both offensive and incorrect. Dallas paused, thanked the person for their comments, and then simply moved on to the next question. Somebody asked Dallas afterward why he had not countered the student’s argument and put him in his place. “I’m practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”
“One sign of maturity are the thoughts that no longer occur to you.” On the first day of sobriety, a recovering alcoholic will be filled with thoughts of her heroic efforts. After 20 years of sobriety, her mind will be free to think other, more interesting thoughts. Her sobriety will no longer look heroic, only sane—only a gift.
“Hey Dallas, what’s death?”
“Jesus made a special point of saying those who rely on him and have received the kind of life that flows in him and in God will never experience death. . . . Jesus shows his apprentices how to live in the light of the fact that they will never stop living.”
Our destiny, Dallas used to say, is to join a tremendously creative team effort, under unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast plane of activity, with ever more comprehensive cycles of productivity and enjoyment. This is what the “eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard” in the prophetic vision. It is worth a few dozen read-throughs (found in The Divine Conspiracy).
Dallas also used to say, “God will certainly let everyone into heaven that can possibly stand it.” This is another one of those statements that becomes more daunting and frightening and wonderful the more you think about it.
“Keep eternity before the children,” his mother said. Dallas kept eternity before us in a way no one else quite has. And now he has stepped into the eternal kind of life in a way he never has before.
I’ll bet he can stand it. I’ll bet he can.