"... a long obedience in the same direction."
I've discovered that one of the more unique aspects of parenting is how much God uses my relationship with my son to teach me about Himself. Currently, we are working on the necessity of my son's response and obedience when he is called. I’ve been utterly astonished at how many little detours he is able to take on his way to obey my summons: down the stairs, over the couch, under the high chair, and around the table — all while being able to insist that he is indeed responding to my call. How delightful a journey for him and how frustrating for the ones who are waiting!
As Renita and I were discussing this stage of his development I was reminded of a phrase from Friedrich Nietzsche that well-known pastor Eugene Peterson has popularized over the past several decades as a description of Christian discipleship: “a long obedience in the same direction.” I’ve always found that phrase sort of cool. We experience many fits and starts in our faith journey and yet the long term trajectory is one of obedience and submission to God. And sometimes I’ve even arrogantly presumed that God should be delighted by my “long obedience.” Well, all of my own pride came tumbling down as I realized that my obedience looks very much like my son’s “longgg” obedience. I sometimes can take a very long circuitous route when obeying God, rather than immediately responding to His call. A “long obedience” is wonderful in regards to persevering until the end. Matthew 24:13 states “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” However, our relationship and obedience to Christ ought to be more in line with Psalm 119:60 ”I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.” May our obedience be quick and our perseverance long, as we keep our eyes on the One who saved us!
By: Pastor Jay Mast