The One Thing Needful (Lent 2019)

listening sunrise photo

Sunrise at The Listening Rock on Pond Mountain. Photo by ionntag

Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best by Eugene H. Peterson (InterVarsity Press).

Here, then, is the clue to our erratic life patterns, our inconstancy, our unfaithfulness, our stupid inability to distinguish between fashion and faith: we don’t rise up early and listen to God. We don’t daily find a time apart from the crowd, a time of silence and solitude, for preparing for the day’s journey. “A very original man,” says Garry Wills, “must shape his life, make a schedule that allows him to reflect, and study, and create.”

Jeremiah had a defined priority: persistently rising early, he listened to God, then spoke and acted what he heard. It was not because there were no other options open to him. It was not because he couldn’t think of anything else to do. He had chosen what Jesus called “the one thing needful” — listening, attentively and believingly, to God.”

The mark of a certain kind of genius is the ability and energy to keep returning to the same task relentlessly, imaginatively, curiously, for a lifetime. Never give up and go on to something else; never get distracted and be diverted to something else. . . . The same thing over and over, and yet it is never the same thing, for each venture is resplendent with dazzling creativity. – Eugene H. Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best (InterVarsity Press, 1983, 118-9).

In the first post of the series, I challenged us (as Jeremiah and Daniel) to point to the Lord when Living Mid-Story. But how do we press on as a servant of the Lord, whether in the good times (when we can all too easily drop off into apathy / complacency amid success) or the difficult times?* Returning to the Lord in prayer and the Word is a necessary part of the daily journey. If you give such practices an extra push during more “liturgical seasons” such as Lent / Easter and Advent / Christmas / Epiphany, don’t lose them after singing the Hallelujah Chorus. That is just what drove Jeremiah crazy.

If necessary, find an accountability partner, possibly even find a place to practice devotions together. Furthermore, if you haven’t already read Chandra Crane’s Spiritual Disciplines for Graduate School, take a few minutes to do such right now. Continue to press on in the upward hope of Christ Jesus. Yes, I’m praying for Emerging Scholars each and every day, each and every step of the way.

To God be the glory!


* In this chapter Eugene Peterson is reflecting upon the genesis of the prophecy given in Jeremiah 25.

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry (D.Min., May 2019). To God be the glory!

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