I just heard that Eugene Peterson died. What a giant loss this is.
I cannot put into words what it is like to read and listen to Peterson talk about God. Only Frederick Buechner, Dallas Willard, and Peterson make me feel like a different person after reading them. I feel more hopeful and more full of faith. But, most of all I find myself more in love with Jesus. I walk away from a reading session of Peterson and I feel like the wisest, most profound, person I could talk to has just held a conversation with me.
What is so attractive for me is that Peterson is interested in Spiritual Theology? In his mind, there is no point in discussing God unless you expect God to actually do something in your life, to change your countenance, and begin making you whole. Peterson had a brilliant mind and a poets sense of words but a pastor’s heart. He used his words, through writing and sermons, as a means of loving his readers and wanting them to grasp the beauty and truth of scripture. I have seen many pastors but not any that viewed their sermons as letters of love to their congregation. Peterson did.
I find it interesting that I have been on such a big Peterson kick the last month or two. I have been listening to his collection of sermons and last week I downloaded his latest, a 90-day devotional called Every Step An Arrival. Also, I listened to a 2015 podcast interview with Krista Tippitt. I would highly recommend any of these options but be aware that he isn’t flashy and that his voice is sometimes hard to listen to. You have to take your time with Peterson and wait for him to draw you in to show you the life that is possible with Christ. His memoir, The Pastor, is required reading for any person in ministry and for most congregants who need to know that a pastor is not just a leader with good hair but should be the person most desiring growth in all life’s good areas.
For an entry point in Peterson, I would recommend a piece called, “Confessions of a Former Sabbath Breaker.” It captures his mirth, his wisdom, his sincerity, and his pastor’s heart. When you read it you will know what I have been trying to say in this blog.
I am sad today but oh so grateful for his work, his ministry, his heart, and his words. Do yourself a favor and read or listen to something by Peterson and ask yourself if your life, in any way, resembles his. If not, you are missing so much.