will you run with the horses?! (or, how to live your best life now)

Eugene Peterson has a book by this title based on his thoughts on the life of Jeremiah that I think is a much better approach to “your best life now” than Joel Osteen’s approach (or even Warren’s Purpose Driven Life) – probably because there is a world of difference between how these to men approach pastoral ministry.   Peterson writes in the first chapter:

Life is difficult Jeremiah.  Are you going to quit at the first wave of opposition?  Are you going to retreat when you find that there is more to life than finding three meals a day and a dry place to sleep at night?  Are you going to run home the minute you find that the mass of men and women are more interested in keeping their feet warm than in living at risk to the glory of God?  Are you going to live cautiously or courageously? I called you to live at your best, to pursue righteousness, to sustain a drive toward excellence.  It is easier, I know, to be neurotic.  It is easier to be parasitic.  It is easier to relax in the embracing arms of The Average.  Easier, but not better.  Easier, but not more significant.  Easier, but not more fulfilling.  I called you to a life of purpose far beyond what you think yourself capable of living and promised you adequate strength to fulfill your destiny.  Now at the first sign of difficulty you are ready to quit.  If you are fatigued by this run-of-the-mill crowd of apathetic  mediocritics, what will you do when the real race starts, the race with the swift and determined horses of excellence?  What is it you really want, Jeremiah?  Do you want to shuffle along with the crowd, or run with the horses?

This is enough to think about as it, but he goes on.

It is understandable that there are retreats from excellence, veerings away from risk, withdrawals from faith.  It is easy to define oneself minimally (“a featherless biped”) and live securely within that definition than to be defined maximally (“little less than God”) and live adventurously in that reality.  It is unlikely, I think, that Jeremiah was spontaneous or quick in his reply to God’s question.  The ecstatic ideals for a new life has been splattered with the world’s cynicism.  The euphoric impetus of youthful enthusiasm no longer carried him.  He weighed the options.  He counted the costs.  He tossed and turned in hesitation.  The response when it cam was not verbal but biographical.  His life became his answer, “I’ll run with the horses.”

I think this is the key question for all of us as I believe God has called all of us to a life of excellence in one form or another.  That question is this:

Are you going to run home the minute you find that the mass of men and women are more interested in keeping their feet warm than in living at risk to the glory of God?  Are you going to live cautiously or courageously?

And his is right, we are called to live our best and he is right, it is easier to live below the level of excellence than to press forward to whatever it is God has called us to do and live.

I called you to live at your best, to pursue righteousness, to sustain a drive toward excellence.  It is easier, I know, to be neurotic.  It is easier to be parasitic.  It is easier to relax in the embracing arms of The Average.  Easier, but not better.  Easier, but not more significant.  Easier, but not more fulfilling. I called you to a life of purpose far beyond what you think yourself capable of living and promised you adequate strength to fulfill your destiny.

What about you, are you willing to run with the horses of excellence?  I look forward to reading the rest of the book and learning to run with the horses!

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