A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
Since Eugene Peterson first wrote this spiritual formation classic nearly forty years ago, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been inspired by its call to deeper discipleship. As a society, we are still obsessed with the immediate; new technologies have only intensified our quest for the quick fix. But Peterson's time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same—a long obedience in the same direction.
Following Jesus in this way requires a deepening life of prayer, and throughout history Christians have learned to pray from the Psalms. Peterson finds encouragement for today's pilgrims in the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134), sung by travelers on their way to worship in Jerusalem. With his prophetic and pastoral wisdom, Peterson shows how the psalms teach us to grow in worship, service, joy, work, happiness, humility, community, and blessing.
This special commemorative edition of A Long Obedience in the Same Direction includes a new preface taken from Leif Peterson's eulogy at his father's memorial service.
"I've never read a book by Eugene Peterson that didn't stir and challenge me."
"I thank God for A Long Obedience. It is a pioneer message, first coming to us at a time when no one was talking about either 'long' or 'obedience.' And while, thankfully, others have added their voices in the intervening years, A Long Obedience retains its prophetic edge for us who live on the cusp of the twenty-first century. Rooted in the ancient psalmist's Songs of Ascents it invites us to journey with Jesus into the rich spiritual landscape of 'righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.'"
"There is a clean, bright rigor to honest life before God. Burnishing the language of the Psalms, Eugene Peterson makes that life sing like a taut wire. A long obedience is the only path of discipleship to Jesus, and this is a message we desperately need to hear and implement today."
"Into a world that does its best to deceive us into believing that everything changes, God speaks his unchanging Word. Ours is a time and a world that needs to hear in fresh ways all that that Word might mean if we would only listen. Eugene has listened. In this book he tells us all that he has heard about those fixed facets of that unchanging Word."
"All of the marks of a classic—profound, timeless, life-impacting."
"Words are weapons for good or ill, and Eugene H. Peterson uses them to wield the sword of Scripture to pierce our minds and hearts. He is one of God's most gifted wordsmiths, and we are privileged to have his work among us. . . . I have constantly used his writings and concepts in my ministry; putting them to use in drama, teaching, and books, and they have hugely enhanced my own gifting. Not least, those words have had a sweet influence in my own 'obedience in the same direction'! I am honored to endorse this Christian classic."
"Eugene Peterson's special gift is to stand beside us and keep our feet on the ground as he lifts our hearts to God and our minds to godliness. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, which does this stunningly well, is also the best pathway into the Psalter you are likely to find. If, like me for twenty years, you find it hard to get into the Psalms, that is another reason to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this brilliant book."
"Every day contemporary culture invites me to rush about in a hundred different directions that tear at my soul. I have found Eugene Peterson to have no patience for such crazed busyness. Instead he shows me how to stay focused on the long, biblical direction home to God."
"A Long Obedience in the Same Direction participates in a vital literary and theological tradition: the power of a particular text, in this case the fifteen Songs of Ascents, to release the highly original—that is to say, explosive—meditation of a profound Christian spirit. . . . These provocative meditations delivered this true evangelist into the Christian world and gave us a literary, spiritual guide whose wisdom and clear-sightedness can always be trusted. . . . Now that A Long Obedience has been complemented by Eugene's own translation of the Psalms into today's idiom, its contemporary testimony stands complete and virtually unrivaled. I would give this book to anyone who truly wanted to know what the Christian faith is about and to anyone attempting to live that faith as well."
"A wonderful book, one of the very best guides to the Psalms. Peterson's combination of passion and insight match the psalmists'. And he is very nearly as good a writer!"
"It has been said in today's instant society that evangelism has never been easier—it's discipleship that has never been harder. Eugene Peterson not only instructs us in his considerable wisdom about authentic discipleship, he helps us see the passion and excitement of living lives fully devoted to Jesus. And with the current torrent of interest in spirituality, his guidance on what constitutes genuine spirituality is pure gold."
"Bind this book in the burlap of servanthood: a course in the weak times, a celebration in the strong! Twenty years ago I first read this tolle lege book. Now it is a well-read friend who looks down from my Peterson shelf and daily asks: Are you faithful long-term? Are you going always in the same direction?"
Commemorative Preface by Leif Peterson
1. Discipleship: "What Makes You Think You Can Race Against Horses?"
2. Repentance: "I'm Doomed to Live in Meshech"
3. Providence: "God Guards You from Every Evil"
4. Worship: "Let's Go to the House of God!"
5. Service: "Like Servants . . . We're Watching Waiting"
6. Help: "Oh, Blessed Be God! He Didn't Go Off Leave Us!"
7. Security: "God Encircles His People"
8. Joy: "We Laughed, We Sang"
9. Work: "If God Doesn't Build the House"
10. Happiness: "Enjoy the Blessing! Revel in the Goodness!"
11. Perseverance: "They Never Could Keep Me Down!"
12. Hope: "I Pray to God . . . and Wait for What He'll Say Do"
13. Humility: "I've Kept My Feet on the Ground"
14. Obedience: "How He Promised God"
15. Community: "Like Costly Anointing Oil Flowing Down Head Beard"
16. Blessing: "Lift Your Praising Hands"
A Long Obedience: Epilogue