In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson discusses discipleship as a pilgrimage as opposed to an instant achievement.
He devotes each chapter for reflection on one of the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). These Psalms are chosen as the foundation of the book because they are “travel songs” and they operate like a “guide book,” which are both important elements in the pilgrimage theme.
However, the book is nothing like a modern commentary. Instead, Peterson works from his exegesis to focus on the central practical theme that relates to discipleship.
These one-word themes are the titles of each chapter including repentance, service, joy, hope, humility, and community.
Although each chapter is thematically different, the thread of a pilgrim journey runs throughout the book. This thread is spelled out in the epilogue where Peterson notes four important adverbs when reading the scriptures. These adverbs are slowly, imaginatively, prayerfully, and obediently. Certainly, Peterson has been faithful to these adverbs in his excellent and well-written book on discipleship.
As I write this review during the season of Advent, it is hard not to compare the themes that Peterson writes about pilgrimage with that of the themes that are present in Advent – expectancy, waiting, and hoping. Both express the perspective of journey with the overriding themes of faithfulness and expectancy (or hope).
It is unfortunate that the book does not have 24 chapters so that the book can be read as an advent reader. Nevertheless, the book has challenged me to stay steadfast and hopeful in my North American society that suggests instant gratification and material hopes are the sources of happiness.
A journey is a process that involves all types of experiences and every part of our being. It seems to me that Eugene Peterson has encouraged us to bring our walk with Christ into all of our experiences and to worship him with every part of our being.