As I lay in my bed waking up this morning and began to steer my thoughts and attention toward focusing on God, I asked Him to commune with me and bring something to my mind to work on to displace the various distractions that were swirling around in there. I decided to begin praying for a deeper experience of love, a deeper appreciation and capacity to know His love, to be transformed in His love, to better reflect His kind of love that still seems so foreign to my natural way of thinking.
As my mind reviewed my past and how God has been leading me and showing me amazing things from His Word that all fits together so perfectly, my heart began to feel affection for Him. I told Him how exciting it is when I see how each new insight fits so neatly with everything else He has shown me before which only helps to affirm the continuity and truthfulness of His ways. I asked for a more passion, the kind of passion that marked the life of Jesus who's whole life was intent on revealing the truth about His Father in contrast to the misconceptions that have confused and darkened humanity. These and a number of other related thoughts composed my growing dialog in my spirit when a thought suddenly energized my curiosity.
If I am compelled with God's urgency – passion I might call it – to share this love and these truths with others who need to experience God as much as I do, how does that affect the peace that I experience as I live in harmony with these perfect principles? (Yes, I have to admit that all of these words were not part of what I was thinking. It is very difficult for the left brain to translate the complex simplicity of how the right brain relates, how the spirit communicates. The intellectual left brain has to resort to more complicated descriptions in its clumsy attempts to translate what is actually much simpler in the emotional, spiritual right brain. But be patient with me.)
The question (I suspect a question from the left part of my brain) that came up was, “how can I live with an intense sense of urgency to spread this good news about God to as many as will listen while still remaining secure in the restful atmosphere of peace that is so vital for keeping my heart and mind as a child of God?” Isn't there a natural tension or dichotomy between peace and urgency? Can the two be compatible and be present in the same place at the same time? Or will one contradict and try to displace the other?
Urgent Peace. Now that raises very fascinating implications that I want to discuss with Father. If both the urgency and the peace come from the same Source, then they have to be compatible and should not interfere with each other but must rather compliment each other as long as they do not become contaminated with their counterfeits from Satan's system.
That is where the light begins to glimmer. I need to discern between the urgency that I need, that arises out of the passion of agape love, and its counterfeit anxiety that tends to debilitate the heart and wear down the life forces. Jesus warned very strongly against indulging in worry and anxiety. Stress as we usually refer to it today, is really a polite word for fear, as are worry and anxiety for that matter. Fear is the main tool that Satan uses to keep us trapped in his system of control. Through fear we feel compelled to take things into our own hands because of our unbelief; we fear that God is not taking care of us sufficiently. Therefore, Jesus' instructions about resisting worry about the future can only be obeyed by one who comes to trust God's heart. And trust in God's heart for us can only take root in a mind that is beginning to learn and believe the real truth about what is in God's heart.
If my perceptions of God are the typical views of a deity who operates using the reward/punishment system from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – Satan's system of government, then there is always going to be fear associated with my feelings about God. As long as I see God as using threats as well as enticements to manipulate my behavior or keep my loyalty to Him, I will not be able to experience the kind of peace that Jesus promises to give, a peace not like the world gives. (John 14:27)
So, what about this peace thing? It is likely one of those words like so many others that has different meanings for different people depending on their perceptions about God. So as our perceptions about God in our heart is updated our definitions of nearly all the words we use in relationship to Him will also continue to change and be updated. Jesus said that His peace was different than the peace we are used to thinking about in this world. I have certainly found this to be true in my own life as my awareness and experience of His peace has increased over the years.
A couple verses came to mind this morning as I pondered this question of how urgency and peace must get along with each other if they truly come from God. Even as I shared my queries and listened interactively to God about this question, I could feel in my heart both of these things increasing and yet compatible in a strange sort of way. I could perceive having an intensity of desire to share what I am both experiencing and learning cognitively about God with others because of how their messed up notions about God prevent them from enjoying this peace that I am starting to rest in myself. My desire to cooperate with God in seeking to open others up to an awareness of what their heart craves but that seems to elude them because of their false beliefs about God can create an intensity inside of me to find better ways to reach their hearts to see God differently. This is how I can be filled with the God's kind of power in the Holy Spirit who's job it is to draw people from the inside to experience how good God really is while at the same time He might use me from the outside to approach them with the same message. Thus, with Him urging them from inside their conscience and at the same time using me to complement His work from the outside, Satan's lies can more readily be exposed and the powerful attraction of God's truth might bring some to repentance – changing their mind about what God is really like.
So where does peace fit into this? Peace is one of the most vital components in this arrangement, for without peace there is little attraction to the ways of God. Peace and love are things the heart must have in order to thrive and grow as designed by God. Without peace we are left with worry, fear, foreboding, regrets and all the other debilitating fruits of Satan's tree. Without love there is no sense of real worth.
So what is peace and how can I live more consistently in this peace that is so necessary for my heart?
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psalms 119:165 KJV)
For many years I had a trigger reaction whenever I read texts like this, for my perception of law was inextricably associated with fear, force, threats, demands for perfect performance. I honestly had a very hard time imagining how anyone could love law, for in my mind law and legalism were pretty much the same thing. No amount of logical explaining on the part of teachers helped much for their answers were so infected with legalism that they were usually arrangements of clichés rather then things that made sense for me.
But some years ago it began to dawn on me that there is a striking difference between God's kind of law and the alternative system of artificial, imposed laws. The more I explored this new concept the more excited I became as I saw how all of God's laws are merely descriptions of natural principles. God's system of interrelated principles for life are not arbitrary or fear-based like the unnatural, external, imposed kinds of law. As this truth began to soak into my heart, my appreciation was awakened for how natural laws perfectly compliment each other and bring life. I found myself beginning to resonate with what David is saying here. To my amazement I discovered that I too could honestly say that I love God's laws as I saw how very different they are from how I had perceived them growing up. As I saw the life-giving nature and attractions in these natural principles of life, I also began to experience the peace that comes from moving into harmony with these kinds of laws.
I have to be very careful not to be drawn back into the trap of thinking that love of God's law will bring peace if my perception of law ever becomes divorced from the God that it is describing. To express love for the law is really an oblique way of saying that I love how God is being described, for in reality God's principle/law descriptions are merely various expressions/descriptions of facets about who God is, what He is like as seen in the creation designed to reflect His own characteristics.
Another verse about this also came to my mind that I remember one of my favorite teachers explaining some years ago. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV) This verse is fascinating the way it is expressed here. It is drawn from a broad understanding of the Hebrew word Shalom from which it is translated. Shalom is a very rich word that has overtones of a heart full of rest, joy, peace, love and pretty much all the good things that define God's goodness. This peace is full of restful trust and is not necessarily a description of external circumstances. This is why Jesus said His kind of peace is very different from the peace of the world.
But in this verse it speaks of a perfect peace. This verse is actually very compelling for in the original it does not say it that way. Rather it uses the same word twice – shalom shalom. By using the same word for peace as an adjective or amplifier for itself, what is said here might better be translated as 'super peace'. Taking an already intense word and then using it as a multiplier for itself, in effect its meaning becomes exponential which is exactly what this was intended to convey.
So how can I experience this 'super peace' that is spoken of here? It says that I can have this as I keep my mind continually on God, by resting in an awareness of His constant, loving, caring, guiding presence with me 24/7. As I come to see more and more about how really trustworthy my Father really is, that He is radically different than what He has been made out to be by religion and His enemies – as trust is awakened in my heart for this amazing, compassionate, consistent and mighty God – His exponential kind of peace can fill my heart and mind and keep me from being contaminated by Satan's lies about life and about how God feels about me.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
May God's urgent peace become a fire in our bones today compelling us to reflect this love that is healing and saving and transforming us back into what God desires, for close intimacy with Him.