Every now and then you get a wake-up call. Let’s be honest, wake-up calls are jarring and sometimes we prefer to roll over, pull the pillow over our head and carry on sleeping. But I don’t want to sleep through the journey of life. So with this particular wake-up call—in the form of a book called The Deeply Formed Life—I decided to sit up and pay attention.

The book is the first of four books that the Renovare Book Club is reading this year. Renovare is a Christian organisation that offers spiritual formation resources and training, and the four books all look rather more ‘weighty’ than my usual reading list.

The Deeply Formed Life is written by a young pastor, Rich Villodas, who leads a large church in Queens. From the beginning, his words punched me with their truth and relevance. Just in the introduction I read statements such as:

“The work God wants to do in us requires us to look within: to look deeper and be deeply formed. Why? Because we are covertly and consistently being formed by a culture fashioned by shallowness. In short, we are being shallowly formed.”


After describing California’s towering redwood trees, with their interlacing root systems, Rich writes: “God longs for us to be fully alive, soaring into the sky and bearing witness to God’s good life that is available to us. But if we hope to be shaped and changed in this way of life, we must have a root system powerful enough to hold us together.”

Rich then went on to introduce five transformative values to root us in the way of Jesus. I’ll be unpacking these over the course of the next few posts.

Just a few pages into reading the book, I already realised that this book was going to be uncomfortable and unsettling. This was a book to mess with the happy status quo of my life. It was a wake-up call, and I had a choice. Was I going to skim over the chapters so that I could tick the box and say I’d read it (the words ‘shallowly formed’ reverberated uncomfortably through my mind). Or was I going to slow down, wrestle with the words, and put into place the values and disciplines Rich outlined in his book. In short, was I going to pull the pillow over my head or was I going to wake up? Was I going to continue living my shallow life or was I going to follow Paul’s command to the Colossians:

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught ”(Col 2:7).


I’m choosing to wake up. I’m choosing to go deeper. And part of why I’m blogging about this journey is that I invite you to hold me accountable—to shake me a little if you sense I’m drifting back to my comfortable slumber.

Oh, and if you feel like you might want your own wake-up call, watch the short book trailer of The Deeply Formed Life below.

Ultreia et Suseia. Further and Higher.


This is Part 2 of my Pilgrimage Blog Series. Read The Storytelling Pilgrim (Part 1) and Building a Contemplative Rhythm (Part 3).

Image (redwood trees): Simi Luft, Pixabay