My previous post brought to mind another life-changing/perspective-changing moment while I was still in the Work; albeit one of my last years. I was at Saginaw, Oregon convention, standing near the back of the main house between meetings, watching people for a few minutes. I had already spoken at that convention and knew what I had said had not been accepted by all of the workers. So for the first time I could remember, I was aware that I didn’t have the approval of some of the friends and workers. (Not that I always did before, but I didn’t know about it!) Yet, as I stood there, a wave of deep peace washed over me.
The aha moment was this: All those years previous, when I had thought I had the peace of God, it was really the approval of the group. I had equated the approval of the group with the peace of God but now I could see how different they were.
I wanted people to like me and depending on how healthy I was emotionally, I often felt like I needed people to like me. The strong sense of community in the meeting group is powerful. If a person knows only friends from their own area, or if they know friends from all over the place, that knowing fills a space within for the need to belong. I felt loved and accepted by many.
Strip away all the approval from the group and see what you have left. It is hard; I’m not minimizing this; but it is soul searching to get to this place. As I learned to seek His peace and not approval from the group, I found a rest of spirit and heart like I had never experienced before. It was as if Jesus had at long last said to the winds of unrest and discontent with, “Peace! Be still!”
It is a good thing to consider whether you truly have the peace of God in your hearts or not and to pray that God would let you know. It requires brutal honesty on your part. Your life will have to narrow down until you are keenly aware it is only you and God in order for you to discover if you truly have His peace dwelling within.
What will it feel like? How will you know?
Jesus said in Matthew 14:27 the peace he will give won’t be like the peace the world gives. The peace the world gives is usually defined as the absence of conflict. All is well. For me, when I felt like all was well between me and other members of the meeting group, I felt peace. But what I saw that day at convention was I had mostly been experiencing the kind of peace Jesus said the world gives.
I like what the NIV Life Application Bible says about Jesus walking on water during the storm in Matthew 14.
“The peace that Jesus gives is a “confident assurance in any circumstance; with Christ’s peace, we have no need to fear the present or the future. The peace of God…offers comfort in place of conflict. Jesus says he will give us that peace if we are willing to accept it from him.”
What about that beautiful verse in Philippians 4:7 that says:
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “
Again, God’s peace is very different from the world’s peace. Quoting from the NIV Life Application Bible again, it says:
“True peace is not found in positive thinking, in the absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. Our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom is sure, our destiny is set, and we have victory over sin. Let God’s pace guard your heart against anxiety.”
I have been thinking a lot lately about how much God did and does so that we don’t have to live in a state of anxiety. In my recent post “Am I saved?”, living fully in the belief that God is in control frees us from anxiety and gives us a peace like nothing else. Being anxious about the future or even today is very easy to do for some of us. Positive thinking doesn’t cut it for me; it has to go much deeper. It is truly believing God is in control and then living that way. It doesn’t mean disasters will never happen, or plans will never fall apart, or illnesses won’t happen. But it does mean He will be with us through it all and all will be according to His will, and thus we can always trust Him.
I Peter 3:11 says “Seek peace and pursue it.”
“We need to be active and not passive about this matter. An effective peace maker actively pursues peace. He or she builds good relationships, knowing that peace is a by-product of commitment. The peacemaker anticipates problems and deals with them before they occur. When conflicts arise, he or she brings them into the open and deals with them before they grow unmanageable. Making peace is hard work, but it results in God’s blessing.” (NIV Life Application Bible)
Peace of heart and mind is a wonderful thing. It is worth pursuing but it is easy to settle for less.