There’s a scenic overlook along the edge of Highway 140 in Northern California that defies description. People who’ve been there will tell you as much as they can about it, but they normally end up saying that nothing can prepare you for the reality of being there.
You can only reach this destination by driving a long way on a winding narrow squiggle of a mountain road. Eventually you will round a big bend and go through a tunnel. As you exit the tunnel, you will be greeted by a vista so beautiful it will take your breath away. “Inspiration Point” is aptly named since God literally breathes his creative beauty into you there at the southern entrance to Yosemite Valley.
The view is overflowing with the majestic splendor of God’s creation: El Capitan’s shimmering stone walls tower on the left, Bridalveil Falls, with its rainbow-filled mist, rises up on the right, and just beyond the towering spires of Cathedral Peaks rises the hooded grey monk of Half Dome. Just like God and his kingdom, pictures and words will never do it justice, you simply have to be there to experience it for yourself.
Those who have opened themselves up to the beauty of places like Inspiration Point are transformed by the experience. People who have ventured deep into the kingdom of God with Jesus are marked even more profoundly. When they speak of God and his kingdom their faces change, their voices take on an ephemeral quality and their eyes shine and sparkle with eternal vision and sometimes tears.
My father, Dallas Willard, was like that. I was profoundly reminded of this as I was immersed in his teaching during the preparations for his next book, Life Without Lack. He speaks of God and his kingdom with the voice of one who has travelled far and wide in the goodness of the King and his kingdom. Through his experience with God, he learned that we can live in the reality of the 23rd Psalm.
Reality? Psalm 23.
Yes! Psalm 23 isn’t just the most well-known Hallmark card poem in the Bible. It portrays a reality that only the companions of Jesus will recognize. My father knew Psalm 23 was describing something real and available because he lived in that place more often than not. An example of his experience of the Kingdom can be found within the prayer he prayed as he began teaching this series. Here’s just a portion of the prayer:
We are thankful for the ease with which you walked upon this earth,
the generosity and kindness you showed to people,
the devotion with which you cared for those
who were out of the way and in trouble,
the extent to which you even loved your enemies
and laid down your life for them…
we’re so thankful that you have promised that same love,
that same life, that same joy, that same power for us.
Life Without Lack is a guidebook for folks who want to experience the beauty and wonder of God and His kingdom. It’s a roadmap for anyone who wishes to go there. And I can tell you from personal experience that our guide is someone who has been there and knows it well, and he would love for us to come along.