A (Very) Long Obedience in the Same Direction

I’ve been been making time lately to re-read my journals–sort of taking inventory of God’s words to me as I read His Word throughout the past year during my quiet time.

First of all, it’s very encouraging.  To look back over the year I can see that many of the God-thoughts I wrote down have come to pass. Joy and miracle. Yay.

As I read I couldn’t help noticing the repeated theme of obedience. I read Eugene Peterson’s book, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” last year, his study of the Songs/Psalms of Ascent.

God was speaking to me over and over again about this subject using this book. Yes, God usually has to repeat something to me over the course of many months to make sure I’m getting it.

Lately I have struggled with falling into discouragment about my behaviours, attitudes and actions, particularly with those whom I love.

“Be more gentle here, Jody.  Watch your tone of voice….” Ack–I often fail miserably.
But God, but God……..the Holy Spirit reminds me.  His mercies are new every morning. Exclamation point.
Thank GOODNESS for Jesus’ reminder in Matthew Chapter 6, that ‘each day has enough trouble of its own’.
In other words, “Take each day as a fresh start from me, and don’t be burdened down by the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘but I didn’ts’.” 

I wrote this in my journal:

We cannot let ourselves be held captive to the disastrous ways we’ve failed
and let that dictate our tomorrows. Our tomorrows belong to God and rest on
His power and provision, not my performance.

Peterson talks extensively about failures and obedience when he discusses Psalm 132 in “Long Obedience..”
This Psalm is full of ‘remembers’, the Psalmist reminding God about his promises to King David.

“God, based on the history of what you’ve done for us, we’re planning on a future restoration of your kingdom and your temple, a place where you can dwell. We know you’ll come through.” (my paraphrase).
Peterson continues, “The traveler/psalmist is not…”reveling in the past for its own sake , but a traveler using what he knows of the past to get to where he is going–to God.”
“The past is not,” Peterson says, “for the person of faith, a restored historical site that we tour when we are on vacation; it is a field that we plow and harrow and plant and fertilize and work for a harvest.”
“If we define the nature of our lives by the mistake of the moment (oh God, I make so many!) or the defeat of the hour or the boredom of the day, we will define it wrongly.
We need roots in the past to give obedience ballast and breadth;
we need a vision of the future to give obedience direction and a goal.”
“What we require is obedience–the strength to stand and the willingness to leap,and the sense to know when to do which. Which is exactly what we get when an accurate memory of God’s ways is combined with a lively hope in his promises.” (LOSD, pp. 169-171).

My journal notes continue, “just like a treehouse in a tree: the tree is firmly planted–solid in the strength of the tree and its roots. And when you climb up high in the branches into the treetops, you can see the view.”

Next time I see a treehouse, I’m going to remember that….Roots in the past reminding me of God’s faithfulness,
a vision from on high of the future He has planned for me.

Tree photo, New Orleans, LA, jlc, April 2012  

7 thoughts on “A (Very) Long Obedience in the Same Direction

  1. Jody Lee Collins

    Only by God's Spirit can we be obedient–He puts the want to in there and supplies the willingness and the way.
    Thanks for stopping by.

    Reply
  2. Jody Lee Collins

    I'm guessing that's a song I'm not familiar with, but the lyrics are wonderful. Thanks, Duane.

    Reply
  3. kolembo

    This was wonderful, and really needed, and cleverly interupted by picture and font and placement of word, urging me through, rewarding me with peace and calmness end enjoyment.

    Obedience. I am held captive to a past that makes me cringe. I realise that I also have, in my past, signs of his Great Work with me.

    I too will look for tree-houses.
    Lovely.

    Reply
  4. MrsP

    Ah Jody, I have been editing my journals, too. Go figure (!) And I am noticing the progression of faith, and am encouraged by it. It's like walking in God's footsteps behind where He has already gone. I've never thought that obedience needs a direction, but it does, doesn't it? We take that for granted, that our obedience will take us toward Christ. A good thing to check.

    Reply
  5. Duane Scott

    I want to live like the tree so strong, down by the water side.
    Straight and tall and pointing to the sky, where God my Savior abides.”

    Reply
  6. Laura Boggess

    I love this imagery of the treehouse.we have been contemplating the same things, haven't we? Sounds like I need to read this book by Eugene Peterson. Lovely thoughts, Jody.

    Reply

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