Jan23WedJanuary 23, 2019
A book with a foreword by last year’s Corporis Conference speaker Jared C. Wilson must be good, right? At the very least, it is beginning well and holds promise to be a help and an encouragement. And so, with high hopes, I start How to Grow by Darryl Dash.
Right away, I appreciate the subtitle to the book. “Applying the gospel to all of your life” is certainly something I need and am working on. And do I ever love having something to work on. A list, a plan, a ‘right way’ to do something…love it. Except, I’m actually quite poor at following through on such lists. So, what is a girl to do? I know I need to grow in my faith and Christlikeness. I know it must require intentional action steps. I know I will not be able to do this on my own.
Enter Jared Wilson’s foreword. Immediately, I am helped by his clarification that this will be a book of balance. He writes: “Darryl Dash knows we need to train. He knows no growth comes without the disciplines of following Jesus. That’s why there are chapters on steps and habits. But Darryl also knows that training is a nonstarter without the ‘appearance’ – epiphaneia (an epiphany!) – of grace to get it all moving.”
That’s what I need. An epiphany of grace to fuel right habits and obedience to Christ.
Because without that epiphany of grace, don’t we all just feel like we need to really get our act together this time? To clean ourselves up? To try harder? To at least put on an outward show of Christian prowess? Dash seems to agree as he writes in the introduction: “When we think of a mature disciple of Christ, most of us think of a certain type of person. They are more put together than we are – or at least it looks that way.”
To which I asked and wrote in the margin: “Well, if not that, then what DOES a mature disciple of Christ look like?” Just call me a slow learner. Ahem.
Enter chapter one, in which I fully expected to be told what to do and how I ought to look. However, Darryl Dash does not tell me how to clean up my act and does not give me a check list of what a mature disciple looks like. He neither berates me for not getting this by now in my walk, nor shames me for needing to hear the truth again.
He simply spends the next several pages reminding the weary reader of everything that is already true of us because of what Christ has done. This is a great relief! I won’t spoil it all for you because it is more refreshing to thoughtfully read through it yourself, but one particular highlight of the chapter is when Dash writes: “The gospel provides the remedy we need. For those who trust Jesus, every wrong done and every good left undone – past, present, and future – has been dealt with at the cross. Jesus has made full payment, so that when God looks at us, He sees the perfect righteousness of Jesus.”
Doesn’t your heart sing YES at that sentence? Mine does. And yet, I know I’ve heard that before and believe it to be true, but I don’t always see that “mature disciple” looking back at me in the mirror. How can that be? If Christ has effectively done all that concerns me, why have I not yet mastered looking like a disciple of Christ? (I repeat: SLOW LEARNER). That is exactly the tone with which chapter one ends. Dash concludes by saying, “Our problem is that we have a hard time living as if it’s true.”