I am currently reading Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and loving this devotional look at the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134) as a way of deepening our relationship, our discipleship if you will, to Jesus Christ. If you aren’t familiar with Eugene Peterson or with the Songs of Ascent, I highly recommend them both.
As I’ve been preparing to lead these retreats on Spiritual Discipline, I have done lots of study on the path of a disciplined disciple. This book is one of those resources. I found this nugget in my morning devotion and it rocked my world. Enjoy!
“The great danger of Christian discipleship is that we should have two religions: a glorious, biblical Sunday gospel that sets us free from the world, that in the cross and resurrection of Christ makes eternity alive in us, a magnificent gospel of Genesis and Romans and Revelation; and, then, an everyday religion that we make do with during the week between time of leaving the world and arriving in heaven. We save the Sunday gospel for the big crises of existence. For the mundane trivialties–the times when our foot slips on a loose stone, or the heat of the sun gets too much for us, or the influence of the moon gets us down–we use the everyday religion of the Reader’s Digest reprint, advice from a friend, an Ann Landers column, the huckstered wisdom of a talk-show celebrity. We practice patent-medicine religion. We know that God created the universe and has accomplished our eternal salvation. But we can’t believe that he condescends to watch the soap opera of our daily trials and tribulations; so we purchase our own remedies for that. To ask him to deal with what troubles us each day is like asking a famous surgeon to poor iodine on a scratch.
But Psalm 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. ”
God is not just our guardian in hard times, in crises, in tragedy (like what is happening in Japan right now). He is God in wonder, and happiness, and joy. He is God when little, seemingly insignificant things trouble us, and God when the robin’s song and a sunshiny spring day make our hearts sing. He is the God of the earthquake, and the God of the baby’s giggle. God’s interest in us never waxes….his desire to love and protect us extends to the tiniest hair on your head. Big or small, He is God.
One of the books I am currently reading is called Leap Over a Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians. It’s a great book written by Eugene Peterson (he wrote the Message translation of the Bible.) This book, a collection of reflective stories on the life of David is rocking my world right now. This morning’s reading was on work…the spirituality of our everyday work. I so needed to be reminded that there is no separation in God’s eyes between my ministry and my job. I have for the past several months been telling folks that Strings Attached is my called ministry, my job at Home Instead is what I do to help pay the bills. A client of Home Instead I was visiting with a couple of weeks ago reminded me that my work there was also in line with my ministry– developing relationships to strengthen the kingdom. Then this reading came along and it all clicked for me. I can’t include all the wonder in this chapter, I encourage you to pick up a copy and read it.
Twenty-five years later, as a pastor,, I found myself dealing with men and women who didn’t know how to act in the place of worship. When they entered the sanctuary, they left at least fifty percent of their vocabulary outside. They talked differently. They stiffened, ever so slightly. Not all of them, true, but enough to let me know that I had my work cut out for me, the work of speaking the word of God to them in the language of their working lives. For how were they going to hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ if they heard it only in “church language”? How were they ever going to get a feel for the Bethlehem manger, the Galilean fishing boats, Peter’s curses, and Mary’s tears, to say nothing of the Golgotha cross, if they got it only behind stained glass to organ accompaniment? And how were they ever going to realize that the adrenaline rush following Tuesday’s business deal, the nausea of spousal betrayal on Wednesday, and the interminable boredom of Friday afternoon were the actual stuff in which Christ was working their salvation if they supposed that the primary place for hearing and understanding God’s word was the sanctuary? The sanctuary is essential, but it isn’t the primary location for the day-by-day cultivation and practice of spirituality, the Holy Spirit shaping the Christ-life in us.
I’m still engaged in that work, saying and showing–insisting!–that the world of work is the primary context for spirituality–for experiencing God, for obeying Jesus, for receiving the Spirit…
Work derives from and represents the sovereign God, who expresses his sovereignty as a worker: kingwork. Sovereigns work to bring order out of chaos; guard and fight for the sanctity of people and things; deliver victims from injustice and misfortune and wretchedness; grant pardon to the condemned and the damned; heal sickness; by their very presence bring dignity and honor to people and land. God’s sovereignty isn’t abstract–it’s a working sovereignty and is expressed in work. All of our work is intended as an extension of and participation in that sovereignty.
Did you get that last part?
All of our work is intended as an extension of and participation in that sovereignty.
Yeah, I am certain Eugene wrote that just for me today….did he write it for you, too?