I’ve got a Peace about it!

Divine guidance can be tricky. Perhaps you have decided to go in a certain direction, but you are not one hundred percent certain that it is God’s will for you, especially if it is a big step. In mild confusion, you turn to a Christian friend and you say, “I think I am doing the right thing and in the will of God, but how can I know?” To which your adviser answers, seemingly wise, with this burning question: “Well, do you have a peace about it?”

Where did this concept come from? Everywhere you go, people seem to say it. “You’ll know you’re in God’s will because you’ll have a peace about it” This is very strange because it can’t be found in the Bible and has become received wisdom, but is perhaps no more than a charismatic myth. Some may point to Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”, but this verse is encouraging peace and forgiveness, nothing to do with guidance.

Of course, there are times when the Lord can graciously trouble a man or a woman about to do something unwise, leading them aside from God’s plan. I fled an educational college in my early years as a Christian because of a “troubled spirit”. But let’s wise up a minute. It would be fatal to our destiny if we automatically interpreted every feeling of unease or fear as a red light from heaven. When we are about to do something big, it takes courage. Courage, as we know, is not the absence of fear but the conquering of it. Ask a bride on the night before her wedding if she has a “peace about it” and often she’s too busy being sick with fear in the bathroom to answer you. A first day at a fresh job is far from relaxing. Doing something new can be stressful, not peaceful. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t God’s will.

Unfortunately, it is perfectly possible to be going in the wrong direction and feel fine about it. Billions of unsaved people will live that way today. Sometimes “Do you feel a peace about it?” is often no more than a pseudo spiritual way of saying “How do you feel about it?” I am not suggesting that this is not a valid question occasionally, but how we might feel about a certain situation should not be an indicator of how God feels about it.

If you are still unconvinced, or not “feeling a peace” about reading this article, consider some biblical data. Disobedient Jonah was told to go to Nineveh, but he fled to Tarshish, the exact opposite direction and the very edge of the world map at the time. No-one would deny that Jonah was going, purposefully, the wrong way and speeding out of God’s will. Yet as the divine stormy seas beat against his boat, terrifying the sailors, where was Jonah? He was below deck, asleep. He had a peace about where he was going. But he was wrong.

In Gethsemane, Jesus battles with an agonising choice. His direction is the cross, his destination is the Father’s divine road, one created before the world was made. Yet, the Lord was not enjoying peace in the Garden. So great was his anguish, his lack of peace, that he sweat blood. There was no peace for the shaking apostle in Corinth, nor the anxious Joshua, to whom God had to say “Be strong and very courageous”. To me it suggests that he was weak and fearful. But each of these were in the perfect will of God. Fearful, but right.

Many years ago I shook hands with a lady on the door after church who was on holiday. In conversation, she told me that she was about to move home, leave loved ones and begin a new chapter in her life. As she was telling me this, her face was full of angst, so I mentioned to her that in all this change she should not expect to “feel a peace about the situation”. As I spoke these words, tears began to flow. The stress had made her doubt God was in it.

Thank God for the nearness of the presence of the Lord Jesus, the only peace we truly need. The fruit of the Spirit is peace, and He does indeed fill our hearts with confidence in the day of trouble. But to truly find God’s will is to study His Word, hear His heart and be guided by mature people. Newsflash: “if it feels good, do it” may lead only to a whale’s mouth.

JOY Magazine, June 2008

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