WONDERFUL THINGS: Perfect peace in a troubled world from Jesus
I was sitting in my office when my phone rang. I answered to hear the stressed voice of one of my daughters. She had been in a car accident. Everyone involved was fine, but the car was not drivable, and the accident was her fault. How does a pastor respond in such a situation? Well, this one failed.
Almost immediately I was filled with anxiety. You might describe me as a man who was absent of peace. Going through my mind were thoughts along these lines: How much are the repairs going to cost? How are we going to get by with one car? How much is our insurance going to increase? You get the picture.
At that moment a friend walked in my door. This was someone whom I had ministered to for some years. He was a former convict who had struggled for over two decades with addiction issues. He could tell I was troubled and asked me what was going on. I told him about the accident, and he could hear the frustration and anxiety in my voice. I remember him looking at me with a smile and then asking me a series of questions:
“Is God here?”
“Yes. I know He is,” I responded.
“Is God in control of this situation?”
Being a pastor, I knew the answer, “Of course He is.”
“Does God love you and promise to take care of you?”
I hung my head now, “Yes. God loves me and promises to care for me.” It came slowly, but I began to see in all my thoughts about the accident, God was absent. My friend helped me to fix my mind back on the Lord. And what began to follow was peace. Real peace.
It was a living illustration of these wonderful verses found in Isaiah, “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock” (Is 26:3-4).
Perfect peace. Maybe some of you who are reading this right now are in need of peace. We seem to live in a time defined by discord, anger, enmity, and conflict. Where can we truly find peace? Notice the promise in these verses: “perfect peace.” Interestingly, the word “perfect” is not found in the original Hebrew. What it actually reads is: “you keep him in peace, peace.” In Hebrew a word is often repeated for the purpose of intensification. So, the Lord does not just keep us in peace. He keeps us in peace, peace. Real peace, deep peace, lasting peace, peace that is not transitory or fleeting. But a peace that is durable, sturdy. A peace that can stand even amongst raging storms. It’s a God-based peace, a supernatural peace — a type of peace that the world cannot understand.
How do we get this deep peace? The verse tells us, from a mind that is stayed on God. Peace that is a condition of our hearts is dependent on the set, or focus, of our minds. Do you want peace in your heart? Then fix your thoughts on the God of the Bible. Keep God in all your thoughts about yourself, in all your thoughts about others, in all your thoughts about work, in all your thoughts about family. Let those thoughts be grounded in God.
It is never foolish to trust in God. It is never foolish to trust in infinite power and infinite goodness and infinite love and infinite wisdom. This is why God wants us to set our minds on Him — not to become Bible-scholars — but to become God-dependers, to learn to depend more and more on Him in all things at all times.
God is rock-solid reliable. Our verse says that he is the “everlasting rock.” Some have translated “everlasting rock” as the “rock of ages.” Trust in the Lord for He is the Rock of Ages. It is thought that this is the verse where the hymn writer, Augustus Toplady got the title for his hymn, Rock of Ages. Think of the first verse of that hymn, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.” “Cleft” is a word we don’t use very often. It is the past tense of “cleave” which means to split. “Rock of Ages, split for me.” Who is Toplady referring to? Who is Isaiah ultimately telling us to place our trust in? Jesus. Jesus is the Rock who was literally split apart so that we could find shelter and peace in Him. Because Jesus’ body was broken on the cross, we can know that we are forgiven. We can know that we are loved. We can know that Jesus is with us and for us. We can know, no matter what, our future is secure.
Ultimately that is peace — a mind fixed on the reigning, ruling, and steadfastly loving Jesus.
James Calderazzo is pastor of Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Destin.