Pass obediently in the same direction toward God

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, October 21, 2005

“A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” is a book by Eugene Peterson that has had quite an impact on my life over the years.

It is a book that focuses on some little-known psalms called the “Songs of Ascent.”

Through his experience in being a pastor and studying Scripture, Peterson came to the conclusion that Christians should be striving for this long obedience in the same direction.

Essentially it means that we are to keep focused on the life of discipleship to which God has called each one of us.

In Philippians, Paul shows by Christ’s example as well as his own how to keep focused on the goal and be obedient to whatever God calls us to do. As written in “The Message,” he says:

“Friends, don’t get me wrong. By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal ... those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision and you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.”

What does it mean to be on the right track?

Scripture tells us that it includes spending time with God in prayer, spending time with God’s word regularly, and living out our lives obeying God and his word.

That sounds so simplistic. I know it does not always seem like an easy task, but God has given us the tools we need to accomplish that to which he calls us by his word and his Spirit.

When we feel as though loving our neighbors as ourselves is proving quite a challenge, he will enable us to love and respond to our neighbors as he would.

When we feel as though having integrity in the workplace is not quite so easy, he will give us the strength of character we need to make right choices.

When we feel as though temptations are getting the better of us, he will provide courage to overcome those temptations.

In other words, we are not alone.

We are on this journey of obedient discipleship with Christ as well as with other disciples. The journey is not always an easy one, but it is one that keeps us on track to enjoy the overflowing benefits of being a child of God.

As you read the above passage from Philippians, hopefully you caught the enthusiasm contained in the words. Running, not turning back, wanting everything that God has for us — what images!

This is not someone explaining some dull drudgery, but rather someone who is excited that the race of obedient discipleship is possible and filled with wonderful things.

God longs to shower us with good things, if only we will give our lives completely to him.

We can choose even right now to invite him to transform us into the obedient disciples that he desires for us to become.

We can also choose to be enthused about this call on our lives to live out “a long obedience in the same direction,” anxious to see what lies ahead on this journey of faith as we keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

Laura Skiba is pastor of North Star United Methodist Church at Mile 25.5 of the Kenai Spur Highway in Nikiski. Sunday school begins at 9:45 a.m. and worship is at 11 a.m.

For more information, call 776-8732.

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