by Eugene H. Peterson
Eugene Peterson's "quest for life at its best" takes us to Jeremiah, an unlikely mentor. Peterson champions the ancient prophet as "stiff drink" for an American church which seems to have lost its nerve. He draws the title from God's challenge to Jeremiah 12:5, “So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses?" (The Message).
The author accompanies us on a tour through the gallery that is Jeremiah's life. Pausing to watch Jeremiah, to see Jeremiah interact with God and people, we discover Jeremiah's unique story of faith and, in the process, are encouraged to trust His creative genius in our lives as well.
Peterson is theologian and poet. His insights are the AHA! Moments that only come from patient meditation in and on the text of Scripture. They are insights that probe, challenge, encourage, and help each of us to experience life at its best as life lived in step with God.
In Jeremiah it is clear that the excellence comes from a life of faith, from being more interested in God than in self, and has almost nothing to do with comfort or esteem or achievement.
5 Takeaways from Run with the Horses
1. Peterson shows me what it means to have a personal relationship with God. As I walk with Jeremiah through his tumultuous times, I see -- through him -- God "on the street" and "God for me."
2. Peterson shows me what happens when I read deeply. His book is ripe with quotes from Barth, De Chardin, Pascal, and many others. These authors are salt and pepper to Peterson's prose.
3. Peterson reminds me life with God is not the easy life. The tenor of his book teaches me to read Jeremiah 29:11 ("I know that plans I have for you...") in the context of Jeremiah 1:5-10 ("I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”)
4. Peterson encourages me in the daily walk with God. Commenting on Jesus' "one thing needful" to Martha, he writes: "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." Chapter 9
5. Peterson affirms that the life of faith in God is affirmed in the end. "The abyss of obscurity and contradiction and paradox in Jeremiah's life is resolved in this moment. All the skeptical question marks that had been raised over Jeremiah throughout his life--Was he a true or false prophet? Was he a patriot or a traitor? Was he clear-sighted or deluded? Was he futile or effective?--are turned into affirmative exclamation marks. The truth of his preaching is vindicated. The integrity of his life is proved." Chapter 16
The quest for life at its best begins and ends with God.