A Long Obedience in the Same Direction | Eugene H. Peterson

Seventeen publishers rejected this manuscript.

Peterson recalls being informed that “there was no ‘niche’ in the market, … that it was irrelevant to the concerns of contemporary North Americans” (202). Who wants to purchase a book on Spiritual Growth with the words “long” and “obedience” in the title, anyway?

Fortunately, InterVarsity Press took a risk and published a book that spoke honestly about Spiritual Growth. Life with God is not a sprint—it’s a decade-long path of obedience. Whether or not the message is popular is irrelevant: it’s true.

This book is a meditation on the 15 Songs of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). Even at the beginning of his career, Peterson had a knack for taking ancient scripture with all its obscurity (Kedar? Meshech?) and making it deeply understandable and personal. As a pastor, I’m amazed at his skill. The modern applications he explores are so obvious in hindsight—but it takes someone like Peterson to point them out in the first place.

I don’t recommend many devotional works. I’m probably too cynical, but I find that most of Christendom’s best-sellers are little more than pop-psychology with a Christian veneer. This is not the case with Peterson. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction runs counter to the spirit of our age even as it aligns with God’s paths.

I suspect this is one of those books that will be reprinted in perpetuity for the life of the church.

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