I want to help people live!

 Thank you, Eugene. You helped me live. 

And now, though your body lays at rest in the sleep of death, your life and legacy of "practicing resurrection" in Christ remains, as we all await the final resurrection at our Lord's return.

I first read Under the Unpredictable Plant eight years ago (Coincidentally, to day of my son's birthday. I inscribed the date on the inside cover - October 27, 2010).

Peterson traces the life of Jonah as a parable for the journey of "vocational holiness" for his principle audience: pastors (shepherds) - an audience for whom Peterson served as sort of a "shepherd's shepherd." Though I've never held the title of "pastor" and have my own baggage with that moniker, if I'm honest, my sense of vocation in this world closely aligns with Peterson's self-identified dual vocation as pastor and writer.

(Which evokes a critical question for me, and for contemporary society where the term "pastor" has been bastardized and blemished and abused and broadly applied to a whole host of leadership types: what is a pastor? I'll boomerang back to that in a later post.)

Back to Peterson. Few authors have had the influence upon my life like Peterson. His words have been an intimate guide on my spiritual and vocational journey:

Long Obedience in the Same Direction
Praying the Psalms
Under the Unpredictable Plant
Run with Horses
Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places
Practice Resurrection
The Jesus Way
The Message
The Fuller Studios interview with Bono and Peterson about the Psalms
(I still have on my waiting list: The Pastor, Eat this Book, and Kingfishers Catch Fire)

Peterson's words have been one of my major interior designers for me, if you will. Each of us searches for and appropriates language and stories to furnish our imaginations. Some more intentionally than others, I suppose.

I don't just want any language, I want the words and stories that construct a Biblical imagination. Not because I have nostalgia for the Bible, but because these words are life. I've not seen any other time-tested, truth-bound Way in this world than the Jesus Way as the God Story in Scripture reveals.

Life is a collection of stories and Peterson has helped navigate me to understand the Supreme Story in Christ and my place within it.

In a passage of Under the Unpredictable Plant, Peterson shares a watershed story from his own vocational journey. It came from the pen of another writer's story - Chaim Potok. Potok recounts his own journey of vocational struggle.

His mother urged him to be a surgeon. He responded with his desire: to be a writer. Years later, she would plead again. No, I want to be a writer. Yet again: Chaim, you should be a surgeon!

"No, mother, I don't want to keep people from dying, I want to help them live!"

Mr. Peterson, thank you for heeding that call from God's Spirit to fulfill your vocation as pastor and author. Your calling, in your words, was to give people "God and passion."

I am moved by your final words:

“Among his final words were, ‘Let’s go.’ And his joy: my, oh my; the man remained joyful right up to his blessed end, smiling frequently. In such moments it’s best for all mortal flesh to keep silence. But if you have to say something say this: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’”


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