My start date for Renovaré Institute for Spiritual Formation was August 1st. Each month we are answering a theological question as well as meditating on a particular passage from the Bible. We are in a learning environment which values the importance of possessing good theology while knowing that it requires encountering God to change us. Thus, the curriculum has those two streams, solid theological learning with opportunities to encounter the biblical Jesus.
Who is God?
What is the Gospel?
Who are we?
Last week, the 40 other students in my cohort and I filled La Casa de Maria retreat center in Santa Barbara, California for our first of four residential weeks of learning with our instructors. I struggle to find words to capture that week. To capture the richness of the teaching, our instructors, as well as the relationships formed on paper isn’t possible. Yet I want to offer you a taste.
As I was en route back to Orlando after a life-changing week, I texted Dennis something like this to capture one reality resonating in me from the week:
“I was introduced to such a gentle vision of the gospel.”
God is a lover ever-pouring Himself into us if we allow, never forcing Himself upon us, yet continually wooing us into His Kingdom. In the Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard captures a taste of God’s essence in this statement,
But he is simply one great inexhaustible and eternal experience of all that is good and true and beautiful and right. This is what we must think of when we hear theologians and philosophers speak of him as a perfect being. This is his life.
Throughout my coursework thus far, my vision of God is expanding, I am tasting His goodness more richly, and feeling His heartbeat for me more palpably. My understanding of the Gospel has expanded beyond it’s small borders to something far more expansive than I’d ever imagined.
Finally, being surrounded by a learning community of people with a shared desire to know God, love Him well, live well, and pour His love into others was the richest of fare. For those of you who have given so that I may so richly receive, know that you were there with me in thought throughout the week. Gratitude for you is bursting forth.
PS. I’ll elaborate on the above topics and in more detail in future posts.