December 14, 2007

The Peace of God

Have you ever lost something valuable to you? Like you misplaced your wallet or your keys and you spend hours...days...weeks...searching - possibly destroying - everything you own to find them. When you lose something that is important to you a couple of things happen: 1)you will basically do anything conceivable to find it and 2)you discover just how valuable that thing was to start with.

About 13 years ago I lost something. The most difficult thing about it was that it wasn't something tangible, that maybe I had stuck in a cabinet or under the bed. I woke up one morning and my peace was gone. Yes, you read that right. I felt as though the peace I had in my life - the peace that only God can give - had been ripped right out of my heart. It was paralyzing. I remember sitting on the steps that morning with my Mom, refusing to eat, unable to explain the source of my struggle. All I knew was that the "peace" that Paul speaks of in Philippians 4 was no longer taking up residence in me. And I had no explanation.

When I speak about this peace being gone what it felt like to me was that there was this pain or uneasiness in my gut - in that place within you that can tell you quickly that you shouldn't have had that 5th slice of pizza and also sends messages to your brain like "Oh, I did not need to see that man's femur pop out through his shin!" There was this painful stirring going on in my soul and as the days passed I began to have one mission in life: find out WHY! Where had my peace gone? Why had it left me? What was God trying to tell me? And so the journey began.

I wish I could tell you that a couple of days or even weeks later I woke up and sunshine was shooting out my ears and everything was better. That would be a lie. The next 7-8 months of my life were a day-to-day process of almost re-learning what it meant to walk with God. I had made a series of choices that led up to this and I see now that there were choices and decisions I would face in the days that followed. God was preparing my heart. He was taking me through a fire that had to be heated up hotter than usual so that He could pose the question to my heart: "Are you ready to be mine? Are you ready to seek me first? Are you ready to follow me wherever I lead you? Do whatever I ask? Or are you still holding on to this or that?" These questions are not easy ones to ask or answer. But make no mistake, when God is ready to ask them He does whatever it takes to speak clearly. The journey for us is figuring out how to listen.

Oswald Chambers speaks of this in My Utmost For His Highest. He says, "Whenever you obey God, His seal is always that of peace...which is not natural, but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, tarry 'til it does or find out the reason why it does not." This all began for me on December 5th, 1994. I read these words from Chambers 9 days later. A light went off in my head and I knew what had to be done. I had to "find out the reason" and make it right.

My friend Jarrod is the only person I know of who can identify with what I went through. Thankfully - and definitely not coincidentally - we went through this at almost the exact same time. But there may come a day when you wake up and wonder who snuck into your room in the middle of the night and stole this prize possession of peace. If it happens, know that it wasn't stolen. God is trying to get your attention. "...tarry 'til it does or find out the reason why it does not." Because without a doubt it will return. And when it does, your heart will be refined, polished, stronger, and ready to walk the narrow road.

"The peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27

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