A Long Obedience: the Power of a Book

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I’m sitting at my desk, watching heavy snow fall, breathing through a nasal cannula. Now that’s a beautiful mental image, isn’t it?

The infection that barreled into something bronchial and resulted in a $2,200 doctor’s visit (thank you Obamacare) is popping a kink in my packing. I’m preparing for an epic adventure, the reset button on the worst and hardest two years of my life.

706While doing a breathing treatment last night, after popping antibiotics, I thought about the past twenty-four months. According to my family I weathered them well. Faith drove my choices and responses, and I cannot imagine marching through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (and Other Weird Places) without God.

In my twenties I was blessed by a phenomenal church. For six years a discipleship group with four other single women was an extension of my worship. Not only did they solidify my walk with Christ, but we shared books and ideas and the trials of being twenty-somethings.

One book that emerged from this association was Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. He talks about discipleship as a life-long pursuit, referring to the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the temple year after year.

P1000378If you’ll note the photo at the top, you can see that the Temple Mount is, indeed a mount. This little jaunt involved camels, donkeys and feet; lots of rocks and sand; no clean restrooms; the random scorpion. It was an uphill climb all the way—just like life, just like faith. But the Jews persevered, as did I. This “long obedience” becomes the rhythm of life, sometimes quiet, sometimes deafening.

I smiled last night at the thought of Peterson’s book. It’s funny how, decades later, I realize that some of the daily aspects of my belief system took root while reading his work. The knowledge that God walks beside me enables me to settle into my temporal journey with hope.

We all need hope now, don’t we? Shalom.

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