Remember that book I was telling you about – the one called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction? It has been sitting on my window sill ever since, staring me down, daring me to finish it. I was sure it would be full of solid advice about how to persevere and be obedient even in hard times. I know that this is generally an extremely irritating important and worthy lesson but somehow it just seems so boring, and, well, long. And my concentration span is just so short. (On a side note, I would like to feel that I am so quickly bored due to my high intelligence. In reality though, I’m most likely slightly ADD).
So, in a cathartic fit of wishing to somehow work on my hopeless character flaws, I took the book out with me while sunbathing today and was very pleasantly surprised. The chapters were not long, as expected from the title, but bite-sized, easily digestible and encouraging rather than depressing. Here are some of my highlights:
we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. When we obey the command to praise God in worship, our deep, essential need to be in relationship with God is nurtured (p.54).
A friend of mine wrote recently about sacramental worship and I think this quote has a lot to do with what he meant. When we physically participate in worship together with God’s people, we are changed. Our lives are lined up with God’s decisions; we remember His stories and the ways He acts; we participate in His peace and security. We are sharpened again by His presence.
On God as our help…
we live our joy among people who neither understand nor encourage us. But the content of our lives is God, not humanity. We are not scavenging in the dark alleys of the world, poking in its garbage cans for a bare subsistence. We are travelling in the light toward God who is rich in mercy and strong to save. It is Christ, not culture, that defines our lives. It is the help we experience, not the hazards we risk, that shapes our days (p.79).
Ever feel misunderstood? Like everyone, even a lot of the people who love you, honestly think you’re crazy? Me too. But it is God who defines me, helps me, is rich enough and strong enough and altogether enough for me.
I still haven’t finished the book, (see above comments on concentration span) but I plan to and I’m sure I’ll have more to write about it yet.
And you really should read it too…
I love to read and these are the books currently gracing my nightstand.
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is a depressing title. The book, however, is anything but. Written by Eugene “The Message” Peterson, it parallels the journey of Christian discipleship with the Psalms of Ascent, sung as the Israelites would make their yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but its well-written, and I’m anticipating a challenging, thought-provoking read to follow.
Ok, the next book requires a confession. I don’t believe in the rapture. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I think it often causes people to live as though the earth doesn’t matter, because we’re all just hanging on here til we’re swept up into glory. The problem is, I often study these kind of issues, come to my own conclusion and then promptly forget everything I’ve ever read on the subject. I know what I believe, I just can’t remember why. So imagine my consternation when I went to a local church service one Saturday night and heard the preacher passionately and sincerely holding forth on the finer details of what happens when we’re raptured. I knew it didn’t feel right. I knew there were really sound academic and theological reasons to believe otherwise. I just couldn’t remember any of them. Hence the dip into Barbara Rossing’s The Rapture Exposed. My friend Ben accused her of being a little polemical, and I can see his point. But I enjoyed the couple of chapters I’ve read so far, and it definitely reminded me why I believe what I do about the end times. I’m sure I’ll go back to it next time I’m irritated about theologically unsound rapture talk!
The Grass Harp. I haven’t started this yet, but the blurb looks great, and it’s recommended reading from Betsy so I have confidence that it will be a good read.
Amy Carmichael’s Edges of His Ways is a daily devotional and was a Christmas present from my dear friend Wendy. I read it every single night before I go to sleep. Never has it failed to comfort me yet.
Joy in the Morning also sounds like it should be a devotional book, but actually it’s an English Edwardian comedy, another loan from the McIntyre library. It is hilarious, especially if you have seen the TV series based on Wodehouse’s books, Jeeves and Wooster. My favourite parts are the abbreviations, ‘mustn’t let the g. grown green under one’s feet’ and other such expressions. Well-written, witty and hugely entertaining.
Posted in Life, Literature
Tagged A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Amy Carchmichael, books, Christian, devotional, discipleship, Edges of His Ways, Eugene Peterson, Jeeves and Wooster, Joy in the Morning, P.G. Wodehouse, The Grass Harp, The Rapture Exposed, theology