Since Eugene Peterson first wrote this spiritual formation classic nearly forty years ago, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been inspired by its call to deeper discipleship. As a society, we are still obsessed with the immediate; new technologies have only intensified our quest for the quick fix. But Peterson’s time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same—a long obedience in the same direction.
Following Jesus in this way requires a deepening life of prayer, and throughout history Christians have learned to pray from the Psalms. Peterson finds encouragement for today’s pilgrims in the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134), sung by travelers on their way to worship in Jerusalem. With his prophetic and pastoral wisdom, Peterson shows how the psalms teach us to grow in worship, service, joy, work, happiness, humility, community, and blessing.
This special commemorative edition of A Long Obedience in the Same Direction includes a new preface taken from Leif Peterson’s eulogy at his father’s memorial service.
“Repentance is not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision. It is deciding that you have been wrong in supposing that you could manage your own life and be your own god; it is deciding that you were wrong in thinking that you had, or could get, the strength, education and training to make it on your own; it is deciding that you have been told a pack of lies about yourself and your neighbors and your world. And it is deciding that God in Jesus Christ is telling you the truth. Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts. Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace.” (Pages 23–24)
“But the wisdom of God says something different: that 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.” (Page 48)
“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.” (Page 19)
“Any hurt is worth it that puts us on the path of peace, setting us free for the pursuit, in Christ, of eternal life.” (Pages 24–25)
“Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence.” (Page 90)
Eugene Peterson’s special gift is to stand beside us and keep our feet on the ground as he lifts our hearts to God and our minds to godliness. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, which does this stunningly well, is also the best pathway into the Psalter you are likely to find. If, like me for twenty years, you find it hard to get into the Psalms, that is another reason to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this brilliant book.
—J. I. Packer, author of Knowing God
There is a clean, bright rigor to honest life before God. Burnishing the language of the Psalms, Eugene Peterson makes that life sing like a taut wire. A long obedience is the only path of discipleship to Jesus, and this is a message we desperately need to hear and implement today.
—Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy
I’ve never read a book by Eugene Peterson that didn’t stir and challenge me.
—Max Lucado, author of In the Grip of Grace
Eugene H. Peterson (1932–2018) was a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. He wrote more than thirty books, including his widely acclaimed paraphrase of the Bible, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, his memoir, The Pastor, and numerous works of biblical spiritual formation, including Run with the Horses, also available in a commemorative edition. Peterson was founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, where he served for twenty-nine years before retiring in 1991. With degrees from Seattle Pacific, New York Theological Seminary, and Johns Hopkins University, he served as professor of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, until retiring in Lakeside, Montana, in 2006.