Perfect Peace (Isaiah 26:1-9)

In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song:

Our city is strong!
    We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.
Open the gates to all who are righteous;
    allow the faithful to enter.
You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
    for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
He humbles the proud
    and brings down the arrogant city.
    He brings it down to the dust.
The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot,
    and the needy walk all over it.

But for those who are righteous,
    the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
    and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
    our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
In the night I search for you;
    in the morning I earnestly seek you.
For only when you come to judge the earth
    will people learn what is right. (New Living Translation)

Peace comes through trust; faith is the smooth path to settled rest and wholeness of being.

We all, of course, want peace. Personal peace. Family peace. National peace. World peace. And yet, so many of us lack peace to the degree that we have to medicate ourselves to get any sleep.

Avoiding family seems normal, just to keep the peace. National peace almost sounds oxymoronic. World peace is merely wishful thinking for far too many people. Perhaps we are in such a befuddled conundrum because of this reason:

We already possess what we so desperately want. The search for peace is really the search within.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Jesus (John 14:27, NLT)

The Christian needs to understand that Jesus has left us his peace. He gave it to us. We have it. Perhaps we have misplaced it? Maybe its lost in that huge stack on the desk?  Most likely, we plain old forgot about it.

God’s peace is here with us. Right now. This very minute. We have exactly what we want.

This peace is about far more than the absence of war, conflict, and/or infighting. Perfect peace is the settled and restful calm and confidence of being with God, of an intimate union with the divine.

Peace neither occurs by happenstance nor magically appears. Peace was achieved for us; it’s a gift which needs to be unpacked, used, and enjoyed. Practices of peace and peacemaking must be acknowledged and engrafted into our lives if we are going to experience it on the daily practical level (Romans 14:13-15:7).  

Like the delivery guy who leaves a package in an odd place, we could be searching for the ongoing gift of peace somewhere on our property. It’s there – it just seems so darned elusive. Yet, peace, the perfect peace that is harmony and unity, can neither be found in perfect circumstances nor in idyllic families and faith communities. Divine peace is the security of relationship with God, smack in the middle of life’s crud.

As the divine life takes root and grows within us, our hearts are healed with that presence, and we experience peace. It’s the kind of peace which drives fear and anxiety away; the kind of peace which only comes through trusting God.

Therefore, there’s no need to try and miraculously conjure up peace with positive thoughts.

It is the glorious, gracious, and mystical union between the divine and the human which creates peace. All obstacles have been surmounted and tossed into the trash for the garbage guy to haul away. And, no, you did not accidentally throw your peace in the dumpster. There really is no need for any dumpster diving. God’s already done that work for you and me.

In such topsy-turvy times as these, I come back again and again to deep spiritual convictions which inform what I do each day. One of those underlying creeds is this:

The Lord is trustworthy, no matter whether my faith or the faith of others is small or great. It isn’t faith itself that heals, saves, or grants peace – it is God.

It isn’t about the level of faith, but about where the faith is placed.

For the Christian, faith itself doesn’t mean much if it isn’t in Jesus. If I place a large and sincere faith in an inanimate object such as money; in a position of power; or, even in my own independence, my faith isn’t worth much. 

If I have a huge faith in a doctor or a psychiatrist to heal my body or my mind, I will quickly discover there are limits to their abilities. 

If I have a confident faith that my family will meet all my needs, my faith will eventually run into failure when they let me down. 

If all my faith eggs are in the church basket, my faith will eventually face a crisis because it is a misplaced faith.  Furthermore, the answer I provide for others is not simply getting them to attend church or to adopt my moral code.

God’s love remains continually steadfast, even if my trust is fickle and inconsistent.

We know with certainty that circumstances change; everyday seems to bring new levels and permutations of unprecedented alterations to our lives – and through it all, the Lord remains as the ever-present Sovereign, responding to even the slightest mustard seed of faith.

A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her: 

“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

(Mark 5:24-34, NLT)

May your trust in the Lord open the way of perfect peace for you, now and always. Amen.

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