The famous atheist philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, once said:
“The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”
You decide you want to lose weight. You decide you want to get in shape. You decide you want to learn to play guitar. It sounds great, but then it sets in just how much work it will be to get to that place. All those hours running and running and running and only a pound lost to show for it. All those sessions and all those chords and you are no closer to joining AC/DC then when you started. So you don’t start at all. The goal seems too far away, unattainable.
Sound familiar? We all have done something like this before. We are the country that revolutionized food into fast-food, helped build Amazon because we like our 2-day Prime shipping, and created Netflix because we wanted our movies faster. We want things fast. The problem is, some of the best things in life are only gained through the slow difficult work: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.
We are great at doing things fast in this culture. We are awful at discipleship. Discipleship is hard work, but it is work worth doing. Small steps lead to big results when done consistently and intentionally. Every step is its own arrival. Ask anyone who has ever struggled with addiction. They will tell you the same thing. Each step of progress counts. “A long obedience in the same direction” sounds great, but it is hard work. The emphasis is long obedience in the same direction.
I once heard of a man who decided he would lose weight. He required of himself 1 push-up per day. Of course, he was free to do more than one push-up, but he was only required to do 1 push-up. Once he got down to do his push-up, sometimes he would feel able to do a few more and maybe a few sit-ups too. Some days he would work out for 45 minutes or more. No matter the circumstances, no matter what came, he would do at least 1 push-up each day. It was a small progress, but it added up over time and he lost that weight he was aiming to lose!
Don’t let the enormity of the task at hand stop you from starting. Join the pilgrimage and make your slow progress to God. Every step is its own arrival. Every step leads to the next and together builds a long obedience in the same direction. What’s your daily push-up? What’s your first step?
Here is where I got my quote by Friedrich Nietzsche.
Here are the psalms of ascents.
Here is the book that I am using.