The title of Eugene Peterson’s book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction has its origins in a quote from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Raised in a Christian family, Nietzsche turned to atheism and later surprisingly wrote, “The essential thing in heaven and earth is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results . . . in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”
We can see the illustration of this principle when Jesus’ public ministry was unveiled at His baptism (Matthew 3:13). The heavens opened up with a ringing endorsement from God the Father, who said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy” (Matthew 3:16-17). I can picture the crowd looking at Jesus in awe, wondering exactly who He was.
Very little is recorded of Jesus’ early years. Known as “the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55), Jesus had a deep and enduring bond with His heavenly Father (John 10:30). I wonder if those years of His life are not captured in Scripture because they were simply a time of loving fellowship between Father and Son. But the moment the salvation plan begins to unfold, we receive more details from the writers of the Gospels. The daily details of Jesus’ secret time with God may not have seemed remarkable. That time produced fruit, however, that prepared Him for ministering and gave Him strength to lay down His life for us.
We’re all called to serve, sometimes publicly. Yet our public service will never have God’s intended impact if we don’t know Him in secret. While serving God in the mundane, the character of public service is developed. It is in the secret places of long obedience that we learn to delight Him.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 14:1-14
Read Mark 1:35 and Luke 5:16 for cues to the way Jesus maintained fellowship with God the Father.
Do you sometimes feel drained by serving God and others? What steps can you take for refreshment and renewal?