Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Well, I've a few minutes before my battery runs out (forgot the old trusty ac adapter). But I wanted to put in a few good words for Eugene Peterson's A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. It's brilliant. Peterson, the translator of The Message paraphrase of the Bible, is a life-long student of discipleship as a lifelong pursuit of God. He uses a specific strain of the Psalms as his frame of reference for this book, the Songs of Ascent, roughly Psalms 120-134 or so.

The following is from chapter 3, Providence: God guards you from every evil. It's inspiration is Psalm 121. As quoted in full from the Message paraphrase:

1 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? 2 No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. 3 He won't let you stumble, your Guardian God won't fall asleep. 4 Not on your life! Israel's Guardian will never doze or sleep. 5 God's your Guardian, right at your side to protect you - 6 Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. 7 God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. 8 He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.

The moment we say no to the world and yes to God, all our problems are solved,
all our questions answered, all our troubles over...

So, already, by the first sentence, he has grabbed my attention. I know that these statements are not true. I know that, fundamentally, they are a lie. But it's a beautiful lie. And I know it's a beautiful lie because I hear it so often, especially by and to novices and seekers. And, truth is, I want to believe it. I want to say that it's gotta be the truth, that I've been living a lie and that the moment I wake up to faith is the moment that life will cease to be a bother. After further probing, Peterson counters,

Is that what you believe? If it is, I have some incredibly good news for you.
You are wrong...

The promise of the psalm - and both Hebrews and
Christians have always read it this way - is not that we shall never stub our
toes but that no injury, no illness, no accident, no distress will have evil
power over us, hat is, will be able to seperate us from God's purposes in us...

No literature is more realistic and honest in facing the harsh facts of
life than the Bible. At no time is there the faintest suggestion that the life of faith exempts us from difficulties.

Do yout think the way to tell the story of the Christian journey is to describe its trials and tribulations? It is not. It is to name and to describe God who preserves, accompanies and rules us.

All the water in the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us. That is the promise of the psalm: "God guards you from every evil." Not the demon in the loose stone ["He won't let you stumble"], not the fierce attack of the sun god ["Shielding you from sunstroke"], not the malign influence of the moon goddess ["Sheltering you from moonstroke," thought to be the cause of lunacy] - not any of these can separate you from God's call and purpose...

Psalms 121 says that the same faith that works in the big things works in the little things. The God of Genesis 1 who brought light out of darkness is also the God of this day who guards you from every evil.


  1. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
    Heb 12:1-3 NASB

    If we are called to be as Christ, how could we possibly expect a life void of suffering and sorrow?

    Joy comes in the morning. Cya there, brotha.

  2. I couldn't agree more. I've seen new Christians fall because of that lie.

  3. thanks, ladies. i knew somebody had to be reading these blogs.

    but what's up with the dj names, girls? y'all just too cute for real names, eh?


    sorry, no evil intent!

  4. Do'cha know girls like to play dress up? It's along those same lines.



Be kind. Rewind.