Dear Hyde Park Family,

During one of my private devotionals this past week, I came across a story about Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb after 1,000 unsuccessful attempts. An interviewer asked him, “Mr. Edison, how did you feel after failing 1,000 times?”

I love his response. “I did not fail. I simply saw it as a 1,000-step process.”

It could be that for where you are right now in your life, that story alone may be the encouraging word that you need. But there’s more. As we begin a new worship series this Sunday on the book of James, we find that the opening of his epistle offers this word of encouragement for any of us who feel down and out:

My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete and lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Failures, shortcomings and heartbreak are all a part of life, and as much as we would hope for the occasional mulligans, there are some moments we can’t do over. So, James encourages us to look at the long haul, and see each experience as an occasion to move forward toward the fullness of maturity and love.

I think that is what inspired the moral philosopher Friedrich Nietzche to say “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is … that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” (from Beyond Good and Evil).

Eugene Peterson later took Nietzche’s quote and wrote Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, one of his greatest books on spiritual growth. The following quote from his book is long, but well worth your reflection as you prepare for this Sunday.

Millions of people in our culture made decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.

Peterson’s words capture the heart of our new series called “Everyday Faith.” Our spiritual journey is not relegated to an hour on Sunday, but is a constant, diligent and daily exercise in following Jesus. It is a God-given, Spirit-empowered privilege to gradually, steadily fashion our words, thoughts, and behavior around the person of Jesus Christ. There are no quick fixes, no easy shortcuts, and a mountain of missteps and shortfalls. But, in the words of Thomas Edison, it is a thousand-step journey, one after another.

Join us at the starting line this Sunday.

Grace and peace,


The Rev. Magrey deVega,
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

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