….the peace that transcends understanding…..
I was young and just starting out in serving the Lord as a vocation. I had chosen to serve Him, though I had no clue what that would look like. I know I had my plans, but His were much bigger. I was in a fellowship hall of this little church and helping the leader of the church change light bulbs. We were talking about making the hard decision. I remember him telling me, “when you feel peace, go for it.” I am sure he explained that way beyond those words, but as a young man with dreams and hungry to get going, that is all I heard and remember from that conversation. So, for a season of my life, I followed that rule. I listened and exercised this like it was Jesus that spoke that small phrase to me. I bounced from one thing to another, time and time again. I finished next to nothing and for the next 4 years of my life I was bouncing from one thing to the next because I felt peace about it. I even jumped out of serving Jesus because I felt the peace, in my flesh!
I believe that man of God that spoke those words to me that day meant something way more than what I heard. I believe he spoke to me on Philippians 4. He probably told me not be anxious and to ask God about every situation. Then, by being in His will, I would have a peace in a crazy situation, where peace could not be possible. Being the stubborn young man I was, I had to learn this through my own experience. I have always learned better by exercising a particular thing. It has always been hard for me to hear a story or a sermon and remember it totally. The times I remember the lesson in fullness are the times I live the lesson.
I took this lesson on peace, or the one sentence I remembered, and ran with it. My flesh can find peace in things that do not pass understanding. As a believer, a disciple, a son and ambassador of Christ, the enemy, Satan and his friends (fallen angels aka demons) will go to any length for me to worship anything but God! That includes giving me peace! I love sports and love basketball in particular. I remember dreaming as a young boy of being Mark Price and being the best shooter in the NBA and every chance I got glorify the name of Jesus. I would simulate last shot situations in the drive way. I would play with tornados on the ground just miles away. Growing up I always had success in basketball. The enemy came in with a plan and executed it to perfection. This knocked me out of basketball, as I saw it, from there on. I became bitter and lost the passion and faith I had in the abilities God gave me. I began to fear not making it and it showed on the court. This story to say basketball was a peace for me. Since I could no longer play really, I grabbed a whistle and began to referee basketball. I then decided I wanted to coach. I justified doing this and said it was my arena to glorify God. My flesh was at peace. I began drinking with fellow referee buddies and it was peaceful. I dropped out of school with only 1 and 1/2 semesters left to graduate to take a job I felt peace about. It was at this job I hit rock bottom. I began to search for peace in many ways at this point only to find a huge empty hole in my heart (spirit). A deep cry from within me came to my attention. I felt all alone and was full of fear. On the outside I had peace. I had made decision based on peace for the last 4 years. I was about to break and new it! One truth about Satan, he always overplays his hand. He did with me here. He tried to take me out, but God showed up!
I am not going to go into all the details, but understand that God is so kind and gentle. He loves me so much and is a great Dad. He knows me so well and knew I could handle no more. He knew I was immature and needed to learn this lesson. He will save us and loves to, even to the point of sending Jesus, His only Son, to die for you and me.
Back to it….I am sitting all alone and broken. How did it get to this point God? I felt peace and went. Why did you not meet me in that peace?
His response…..”What do I say about peace?” I love how he responds with a question. Why does He do this? It makes us mature and dig! Plus, He knows me better than anybody and knows if He just tells me I will grab a little bit and go. I had to get it myself so it stuck!
Long story short I learn the lesson that I am not to react out of peace. Rather I am to stand in the place He has called me to be and know He gives peace. In obeying His words and knowing His nature, I can have a peace that transcends all understanding. The Ancient of Days, the Creator of everything, the One that owns a cattle on thousands of hills, my Defender is with me and I have no need to be anxious!
This was 10 years ago. I have had many lessons since then and many opportunities to respond to this lesson. I will share the most recent.
We are missionaries. I actually made a vow as a young man that I would serve God, but not as a missionary. I have repented of this, but that is where He put me serving Him. I have not had a lot of opportunities up to last year for ministry other than where I am. We were under the impression we were in Kansas City for training unto something else in the future. It may still be, but not as quickly as we thought. For 2 years we had asked God about buying a home. The 3rd year He says, “buy!” We had disappointment after disappointment in this process. Peace in the flesh was NOWHERE to be found in this process. It was actually miserable at some points. Over 10 years ago, I would have bailed and ran. We also had ministry opportunities that came up as well. They were great opportunities in places we would be comfortable, even in the flesh. We would have been close to family and doubled our income. There was one thing we continued to come back to…the spoken Word of the Lord. He told us in prophetic word, dreams, His Word, and to us directly for months. We had to continue to stand on His promises about His will for our lives. We have had to continuously battle anxiety and fear to stand in peace and faith. Here we are a day before breakthrough and God sends a snow storm. We have had 7 inches of snow maybe in the last 2 years. We will get that and possibly more today. Here is the cool thing. Snow means redemption! Snow means transition! It means purity! As I think about these 3 meanings I get no peace in my flesh! NONE! It all means tough times have occurred. To purify something is the process of cleaning out impurities. Transition is never easy. Redemption means something was lost for it to be redeemed. One thing is for sure…..All 3 of these are true about this season of our lives. This year marks 10 year anniversaries for Sarah and I. Over the last 10 years we have battled a lot, and we rejoice with God and you. The snow is here and will make moving in a few days a little more challenging, but we are battle tested. We will rejoice with Him and continue to stand! And…Thunder Snow with Lightning! The power of God along with it.