A long time ago (in a universe far far away…sorry), Dallas Willard wrote a book called The Divine Conspiracy. I read it when it first came out and was changed forever by the fresh air blowing my hair back as a I turned each page. A few weeks ago I realized my mind was in dire need of a good sweeping out, so of course I returned to my old friend Dallas.
Now for the backdrop to the story. I’ve been working on a book. It’s an important book. A book that has ripped my heart out again and again, pummeling my guilt trigger so many times that I think it’s finally broken. It was a painful experience indeed, but one that has delivered an unexpected payoff. I’ve been moved beyond something. What is it? I’m not sure, but through the gut-wrenching process of researching and writing the book, I feel like I’ve left something behind…and it’s not the same feeling you get when you’ve left your hotel room without doing one last check of the inside hook on the bathroom door to make sure you didn’t just imagine packing your PJ’s.
It’s more like leaving a mangled and rusty side section of the Titanic behind on the beach and no longer feeling compelled to return and pick it up, hoist it onto my back, and allow its sharp bends of steel and rusty tears in the metal sheets to cut and infect me with tetanus causing toxins; toxins that cloud my thinking, dampen my spirit, and disqualify me from the right to entertain hope.
Yeah, like that.
So yes, something has changed. And it’s good.
But getting back to Dallas and the book. Not his, mine. But his too. Anyway, I just launched the book and, as a professional trained by one of the best in the arts of Indie Publishing, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time creating book trailer videos and writing copy to be used in Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Amazon ads. It’s the big push. If you know anything about this, you know that the campaign creation process goes better if you’re a magician, or you have a ton of money to gamble away as you pull the Facebook ad slot machine lever and hope that you’ll hit a vein of interested Facebook users who happen to be in the mood to buy.
So once you’re past the point of campaign creation and the ads are running, the monitoring begins. And if you’re like me and you’ve set up every kind of campaign you can think of to reach the broadest audience possible, you now have way too many “active” ads spending your precious tiny budget faster than you can grab your PJ’s off the hook at the hotel. Making sense of the mess you’ve created is absolutely mind-boggling.
And it screws up your focus.
Which brings me to Dallas and things concerning God.
Jesus gives us his guiding principle at the outset of the discussion in Matt. 6:1. “Be sure not to do your rightness (dikaiosune) before human beings with the intent of being seen by them. Otherwise your Father, the one in the heavens, will have nothing to do with it.”
…Second, our intent is determined by what we want and expect from our action. When we do good deeds to be seen by human beings, that is because what we are looking for is something that comes from human beings. God responds to our expectations accordingly. When we want human approval and esteem, and do what we do for the sake of it, God courteously stands aside because, by our wish, it does not concern him.
Here’s the question. Where is the line between partnering with God in the pursuit of book launch excellence, and taking things into my own hands in response to a lack of little amber-colored lines on an Amazon sales chart? Because you know what lacking little amber-colored lines means: people don’t know about the book, they must know about the book, it’s incumbent upon me to make them know about the book via a complex labyrinth of strategically created and timed social media ads because certainly they would like the book (and me) if they did. The other option (at least one of the other options) is to assume that most people don’t like the book, and therefore don’t like me, and then I would be forced to question the purpose of my existence over the past five years.
And Dallas, as he had a knack for doing, has kindly pointed this out. I have slipped into pursuing launch excellence for the purpose of human approval and esteem, while He sits waiting for me to play to His audience of One.
I’ll be taking an INTERMISSION for the rest of the day. I need time to calm my mind and dismantle the advertising machine, the machine I’ve built whose sole purpose to date has been to harass my mind and keep me from resting on the stage of His empty theatre. Or so it seems.
 Willard, Dallas (2009-02-06). The Divine Conspiracy (p. 190). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.