Do You Know Where Your Peace Is?September 8, 2005
Here is a question I pose to people often: “Can you really make good decisions when your heart isn’t in a place of peace?” We are told in Scripture that we should “let the Peace of Christ rule in our hearts”. We are reminded by Him also when we enter a new town to “find the Man of Peace and stay at his home”. We are to have peace as our ruler and landlord it seems. But how many people find that peace at all? Doesn’t that help to explain why so many decisions are foolish and ill-advised?
Several years ago, I was approached by a friend and he asked me some tough questions about my future. We were both involved in something together and he was concerned I was about to jump ship and leave him holding the bag, so to speak. As it was, I really was considering leaving and it would have put him in the position of being left to carry on without me. I didn’t want to tell him, but I also didn’t want to lie either. So I told him what I was considering. He didn’t answer for a long time. Finally, he looked me in the eye and asked me if I would let him know what my plans were before telling anyone else. I assured him I would. At that moment, there were like these alarm bells going off inside of me. Something didn’t feel at all right, and I knew it deep in my gut place.
What was happening? Peace had left and in its place was this anvil sitting on my stomach. You know what I’m talking about. I spent the next days analyzing to death what I had promised. Why was I feeling so out of sorts? I put it down to stress or bad pizza or any number of other non-sequitors. But I couldn’t shake that feeling I had screwed up royally. As the next two months unfolded I indeed did decide on leaving that ministry and moving to something else. I also decided I couldn’t let him know ahead of some other people – so I told them first. My friend was furious at me, and since that day has not really had much to do with me.
I think back on it all and wonder what I did wrong. Now that I am not in the middle of it, there is clarity. I should never have promised to tell him before others. I made the promise more to appease him than out of any sense of rightness. There were others that deserved to know first, and I should have just asked him to trust that I would tell him when the time was right. He may not have liked my answer, but it would have dissolved that dagger of doubt sticking out of me.
Peace accompanies the path of correctness. It is like a Guide walking us through a minefield of mistakes. It is meant to be our constant companion, and when we notice that our Tourguide Peace is missing, we should go back down the path and see which turn we diverged from each other.
I saw the grandest picture of this on CNN last night. A woman in Houston, along with her husband, decided to take in a displaced family from New Orleans being housed in the Astrodome. As she brought the family (with somewhere near 20 people total) into her home, she realized that God was telling her to allow them to stay for as long as they need to. She told them they could count on her hospitality for a year if they required it. When asked how she could make such an offer, she responded “I have peace about it. If I hadn’t told them that I would now have no peace.” I had tears listening to her. But the situation didn’t get easier…it complicated quickly. More family members found out where they were staying and they asked if they could move in also. It seems this is a large family with many coattail relations. Each time someone requested sanctuary, this woman would go to prayer and ask the Lord. The cameras showed her place of repose: Her walk-in closet. They also showed her husband crawled up under the covers afraid of how many more people would be in his house when he awoke. This lady would go into the closet and close the door and stay there until “I find the peace I’m looking for.” So far, she has taken in 53 people. Yet, there is miraculously enough room, enough food, and the house feels so “homey” according to its new residents.
I like this woman’s closet. It is a visual representation of where God wants us to go whenever we lose our peace. If we are to “follow the peace” there must be times when we consider where and how we lost it. Maybe it was by bringing in personal offense at someone’s words. Maybe it was by being sarcastic, hateful, lustful, envying. Maybe our peace left because we made a hasty decision…or because we neglected to make a quick decision.
If your peace is gone, go find it. Fast. There are people waiting.