A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is the first Eugene Peterson book I’ve ever read. It won’t be the last.

This book centers on the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134). These psalms were sung by Jewish pilgrims traveling “up” to Jerusalem. These pilgrims were anticipating worship and celebration at the temple, and their songs reflect both the nature and purpose of their journey.

Peterson takes the Psalms of Ascent as an ancient guide to discipleship. His words are pastoral, insightful, and challenging. He discusses repentance, providence, worship, service, help, security, joy, work, happiness, perseverance, hope, humility, obedience, community, and blessing. The quotes below are a taste of what you’ll find in this helpful book:

  • “For recognizing and resisting the steam of the world’s ways there are two biblical designations for people of faith that are extremely useful: disciple and pilgrim.” (17)
  • “A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.” (25)
  • “For many, the first great surprise of the Christian life is in the form of troubles we meet. Somehow it is not what we had supposed.” (38)
  • “If Christians worshiped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship. Feelings are important in many areas but completely unreliable in matters of faith.” (54)
  • “We would very soon become contemptuous of a god whom we could figure out like a puzzle or learn to use like a tool.” (63)
  • “God doesn’t need me to defend him. He doesn’t need me for a press secretary.” (72)
  • “My security comes from who God is, not from how I feel. Discipleship is a decision to live by what I know about God, not by what I feel about him or myself or my neighbors.” (87)
  • “Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence.” (96)
  • “The main difference between Christians and others is that we take God seriously and they do not.” (108)
  • “Religion is an inconvenience only to those who are traveling against the grain of creation.” (121)
  • “The people of God are tough.” (126)
  • “A Christian is a person who decides to face and live through suffering.” (137)
  • “Christian faith needs continuous maintenance. It requires attending to.” (149)
  • “Biblical history is a good memory for what doesn’t work. It is also a good memory for what does work.” (167)
  • “No Christian is an only child.” (175)