The first step toward God is a step away from the lies of the world. It is a renunciation of the lies we have been told about ourselves and our neighbors and our universe.
Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 29
Have you ever stopped to think about the world we live in?
This world is filled with tons of messages that seek to shape who we are, what we believe, and how we see ourselves and others. Our constant exposure to media in all of its variety to the enticing whispers of advertisements, makes it feel like we're caught in a web of deceit.
And you know what?
These lies not only twist our perception of reality, but they also mess with our hearts. The messages we receive from the world of make us feel inadequate in our effort to follow Jesus and disconnected to God.
Let's not lose hope!
Peterson's wisdom, from his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, reminds us of the way forward. We need to take that intentional and bold step away from the deceptive narratives that surround us.
Yes, it starts with a choice. Picture it as turning away from the unhealthy and cancer causing food that have held you consumed for too long.
The Bible, provides many examples of people who have embraced this pivotal step.
One person is the prophet Isaiah, whose profound encounter with God is recounted in chapter 6 of the book that bears his name.
The vision Isaiah witnessed unfolded before him—a scene of God seated in Heaven on a throne, enveloped by spiritual beings. The sheer awesomeness of this revelation overwhelmed Isaiah, prompting him to exclaim:
“Woe is me for I am ruinedIsaiah's response was profound in its authenticity. He confronted the truth about his own sin and acknowledged the shortcomings of all of Israel.
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
and because my eyes have seen the King,
the LORD of Armies.” (Isaiah 6:5, CSB)
Rather than succumbing to despair, Isaiah took that crucial step towards God. He openly admitted his transgressions and laid them bare before God. In response, an angel purified his lips with a burning coal from the altar, declared:
Now that this has touched your lips,Isaiah's story reveals a fundamental truth: that first step toward God starts with breaking free from the world's lies.
your iniquity is removed
and your sin is atoned for. (Isaiah 6:7, CSB)
It means throwing away those distorted beliefs we have about ourselves, our neighbors, the world we live in, and even God Himself. I won't lie—this process will probably involve facing uncomfortable truths about ourselves.
Like anything worth doing, this process is hard, but the result is worth it. That is why Eugene Peterson called this journey a long obedience in the same direction. It's the journey that involves repentance, change, obedience that moves us to forgive, serve, and love.
As we walk this path of faith, we need to draw inspiration from the trailblazers who've gone before us. We need to be like Isaiah and all those other heroes of faith who have chosen to step away from the shadows of deception. We need to let go of the chains and weights of deceptions that have held us back and embrace the truth that will ultimately set us free.
In this process it is crucial to remember: with every step we take, we're not alone.
The Holy Spirit walks beside us, using Scripture, our prayers, and the Church to guide us closer to the heart of God.
With this in mind let's step forward with unwavering obedience and trust, knowing that this journey is leading us to a deeper relationship with the One who loves us beyond measure.