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A Long Obedience

Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev…. He went by stages from the Negev to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had formerly been, to the site where he had built the altar. And Abram called on the name of the Lord there.” (Genesis 13:1, 3–4)

Eugene Peterson famously calls the life of a Christian “a long obedience in the same direction.” A disciple of Jesus, he said, will be found faithful for the long haul. The disciple will be tracking on dependable and trustworthy trajectories.

Listen, friend, that doesn’t preclude that we might make mistakes or missteps along the way, but we’re running a marathon, not a sprint.

The faithless, on the other hand, are flighty. They bounce around from here to there. Despite challenges, the faithful continue in a heavenward direction. God is looking for the faithful, not the perfect.

Abram had some misadventures in Egypt. He made some mistakes in his sojourn down there. He got caught in a lie to the Pharaoh and, if it hadn’t been for the Lord’s intervention, it would have been curtains for him.

But Abram found the right path again. You’ll notice the first place it took him. He went back to the altar he had built to God in chapter 12 – the place where God had spoken to him – the place where God changed his life. Abram found his way back to the altar of God.

Friend, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been, how long you’ve been there, or where you find yourself at this moment – there’s always a way back to God. You may not be perfect, but be faithful! Go back to God. You will always find His arms open wide to receive you.

Let’s discuss this more on Sunday as we finish our sermon series The Power of Place.


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New Life Church, Denton