Eugene Peterson on prayer and storms in our lives

In his book, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness(Eerdmans 1992), he writes (in relation to the storm stories involving Jonah and Paul and their connection to the story of Jesus):

Prayer is the connecting thread binding these ses storm stories; prayer is the articulation of human response to the word of God, the word that creates and saves.  The sea storms that call into question our vocations turn out to be the means of vocational recovery.  They expose us to what we cannot manage.  We are returned to primoridal chaos, to the tohu and bohu of Genesis 1, where we submit our lives to the world-making word of God.  These storms are not simply bad weather; they are the exposure of our lives to the brooding, hovering, wind/spirit of GodIn the storm we are reduced to what is elemental, and the ultimate elemental is God.  And so prayer emerges as the single act that has to do with God.  Our vocations are God-called, God-shaped lifework.  The moment we drift away from dealing with God primarily (and not merely peripherally), we are no longer living vocationally, no longer living in conscious, willing, participatory relation with the vast reality that constitutes our lives and the entire world around us.  The storm either exposes the futility of our work (as in Jonah) or confirms it (as in Paul).  In either case,the storm forces the awareness that God consitutes our work, and it disabuses us of any suggestion that in our work we can avoid or manipulate God.  Once that is established, we are ready to learn the spirituality that is adequate to our vocation, working truely, easily, fearlessly, without ambition or anxiety, without denial or sloth. 

In sum, to maintian vocational holiness, we NEED God!  So what about you?  Do the storms in your life reveal your sense of prayerlessness or your prayerfulness?  Do they reveal your lack of complete and total dependance (and obedience to) on God or the lack thereof?  

For me, I am in a situation presently where I am being reminded of my need to be completely dependant on, and obedient to God, and to the Holy Spirit.  I am learning that a lack of dependance on God will… wipe me out.  Because Debbie and I are more or less the strongest and most learned in the church, at the moment, whether the church knows it or not, or if we’ve come to understand it, the church is in a place where it needs us to live in complete dependance upon, and obedience to, the Holy Spirit and his direction in our lives.

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One response to “Eugene Peterson on prayer and storms in our lives

  1. Eugene Peterson has such a knack for making sense of life in view of how God is working. Great reference to his book, and great reference to His character!

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