Every autumn I begin preparations for the coming year by reading books that have proven to help me fear well.
These books are all placed together in my bookcase in my office. They are at my fingertips and I have been known to refer to them throughout the year. But in this yearly season of change, I pull them out and re-read them to glean new insights and remind me of the old.
Which one is my first go-to-book for this year?
Eugene Peterson's book: 'A Long Obedience in the Same Direction."
You might know or have heard of 'The Message.' It is a paraphrase of the bible written by Eugene Peterson.
Granted, this blogpost isn't about that book, there is much controversy about paraphrases of the Bible. But this is really not a salvation issue, so for me, I consider Peterson's message a nice, helpful second pair of eyes on the Word. But, like I said, another blog for another day.
But, the first book I ever read from Eugene H. Peterson was this instructive book on 'Discipleship in an Instant Society.' I find books on discipleship important because I want to be a better disciple. I want to be a better Jesus Follower. Do you? The closer I am to Jesus, the more I fear well.
We tend to steer away from the word 'Obedience' in our world today. This is almost laughable because we honestly read books, watch webinars, take classes on how to be more obedient all the time.
When? What else would you call it when we discuss:
The actual word OBEDIENCE is simply not a word to use in our world today ⏤ we think it is too confining.
But is it? I myself want to be able to focus, develop good habits, and live a healthy life. And I find that this particular book based on several Psalms in the Old Testament is a really good book to guide me to doing all of those things. And on top of that, doing it wisely.
In Peterson's book 'A Long Obedience in the Same Direction,' which was first published by Inter-Varsity Press in 1980, Peterson breaks down discipleship practices into 16 chapters. These 16 chapters are based on Psalms 120-134, often known as the Songs of Ascents.
"We know that the spiritual atmosphere in which we live erodes faith, dissipates hope and corrupts love, but it is hard to put our finger on what is wrong." Eugene Peterson Chapter 1, "A Long Obedience..."
Peterson goes on to share some really good practical guidelines to help us walk through this world.
"For those who choose to live no longer as tourists but as pilgrims, the Songs of Ascents combine all the cheerfulness of a travel song with the practicality of a guidebook and map. Their unpretentious brevity is excellently described by William Faulkner. "They are not monuments, but footprints. A monument only says, 'At least I got this far,' while a footprint says, 'This is where I was when I moved again.'" Eugene Peterson
The first time I read this book was in 2000. I was preparing for a mission trip to Holland as a chaperone for our church youth group. As a single mother, public school teacher, trying to make ends meet financially, I had picked up an extra job working in a small family owned Christian bookstore. I remember unpacking the book and thumbing through it, then putting it in the 'to be read by Robyn' spot on the bookshelves of the bookstore. It was a gracious perk from the owners. We could read and review books as they came in.
This book not only challenged me, but it gave wisdom that I have come back to over and over again through the last 17 years. I bought the book!
I encourage you to consider buying this book and giving it a thorough reading. You will learn much about yourself and it will help you on your way to moving forward in leaning into the Word of God for guidance.
Here are just a few nuggets.
"The dissatisfaction, coupled with a longing for peace and truth, can set us on a pilgrim path of wholeness in God." pg. 25
"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" pg 25
"Joy is what God gives, not what we work up. Laughter is the delight that things are working together for good to those who love God, not the giggles that betray the nervousness of a precarious defense system. That joy that develops in the Christian way of discipleship is an overflow of spirits that comes from feeling good not about yourself but about God. We find that his ways are dependable, his promises sure." pg 101
I am not perfectly free from viewing fear as frightening. As I have repeatedly said, I fight with this concept. I'm learning. If you have come here to fight with me and learn how to fear well, I believe that this book could help.
Check it out.
It's an oldie but a goodie.
If you've read it before. Try giving it a re-read.
For the more I,
Next week I will come again with another of the yearly re-reads from my life mentors.
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Robyn Rochelle Cox
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Robyn Rochelle Cox
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