One of my favorite quotes comes from the pen of the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (pronounced “Nee-che”). He once wrote, “The essential thing in heaven and earth is that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”
While Nietzsche was often wrong about many things and was by no means a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe the forgoing quote gets it right. It certainly resonates with my experience and that of many others in significant ways. For instance, it is only through consistency, perseverance, and persistence that many worthwhile things in life are achieved. Such things as physical fitness, stamina, endurance, spiritual growth, and godliness to name a few.
I think too that his quote resonates with the philosophy and life habits of Jesus. It was said of Christ that “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9).
If Jesus Himself lived a life of discipline, perseverance, consistency and “learned obedience”, how much more ought we to follow in His footsteps. While we will never be “perfect” in the sense that He was, Scripture (in Hebrews 12:2) enjoins us to keep our eyes on Him as our great example of endurance, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In my life these days I am trying to put into consistent daily practice some personal healthy physical and spiritual disciplines that I hope will bring about some positive transformation over time. I wonder what sort of “long obedience’s” the Spirit of God might want to see built into your life? It could be the sort of stuff that “makes life worth living.”