Peace Like A River

For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
    and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream… (Isaiah 66:12)

Peace. To the one in the midst of battle, peace is the cessation of fighting. To the one surrounded by screaming children, peace is bedtime. To the one in a difficult relationship, peace is the restoration of harmony.

Yet, while the above instances represent a physical sense of peace affected by physical circumstances, God has been speaking a deeper aspect of peace into my life:  His peace. Unlike physical peace, however, the peace of God is purposeful, active, and unaffected by circumstances.

God’s peace is fluid.

In other words, peace in the heart of the Christ follower is not the absence of struggles; it is the existence of God’s Presence flowing through the struggles.

Look at the above passage.  God promises to extend peace like a river.  According to Dictionary.com, a river is “a natural stream of water of fairly large size flowing in a definite course or channel or series of diverging and converging channels.”  A river is large, purposeful, and flowing. A river is not stagnant.  It is not small.  A river moves–and it moves with purpose.

So when God promises peace like a river, He isn’t promising a stagnant quiet dependent upon circumstances; He is promising a purposeful peace flowing through circumstances.  Peace does not mean there are no rocks in your path.  Peace doesn’t mean there are no downed trees reaching over the banks of your life.  Peace means God’s presence flows like a river over, under, around, and through the struggles in your life.

There is a well-known illustration involving rocks, gravel, sand, and water.  The speaker places large rocks in a jar and asks if it is full.  He then adds gravel, then sand, then finally water to make the point that in life we need to make room for the big, important things in life first (like family) before adding the smaller, less important things. (Read more about it here.)  And although that is indeed an important life lesson, God brought that particular illustration to mind this morning for another reason: the types of materials.  God didn’t promise peace like a rock; rocks, after all, are too firm, too large, and too awkward to fit in every place (although they are great for building upon…see Matthew 7:24-29).  God didn’t promise peace like gravel or sand; yes, gravel and sand can fit in many places, but there will always be a little room left over, because gravel and sand are just smaller versions of stone (yet grains of sand are difficult to count and great in number, which describes perfectly God’s thoughts about you…see Psalm 139:17-18).  Rather, God promised peace like a river.   And what is a river comprised of? Water.  What is especially unique about water?  Water is liquid; therefore, water is fluid.  As fluid, water is capable of filling every crack, every crevice, every corner, every hard to reach place.  As fluid, water not only conforms to the shape of its surroundings, but it also has the ability to fill and even overflow its surroundings.

So if we have peace like a river, we have peace flowing and filling every area of our lives. No matter what shape we find our surroundings, God’s peace can fill it. There is no room for worry, for fear, for shame, or for doubt when God’s peace is flowing like a river in our lives. In fact, when He fills us with His peace, He actually fills us to overflowing (Psalm 23:5).

 God’s peace is purposeful, powerful, and it moves.

Yet we as Christ followers must choose it.

How do we choose peace?   How do we choose peace in such turbulent times?  Let me share with you what God has taught me in recent months–months full of uncertainty, unexpected events, and lots of change.

Keep your eyes on God – When Peter took His eyes off Jesus, he became distracted by the waves and began to sink.  It is by keeping your eyes on Jesus that you will be able to walk through the storms victoriously. (See Matthew 14:22-32)  It is by holding on to the God’s promises that you can proceed with peace and hope.

  • “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)
  • “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

Spend time in His Presence and His Word.  – Start each day on your knees.   Take time each day to read and meditate on God’s Word.   His Word is where you will find the promises on which you can stand.  Also, the more time you spend with Him, the more you will become like Him.  You will find His peace in His presence-

  • “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
  • I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

Pray  –  Talk to God.  Yes, He knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:8), and yes, He knows every word you will speak before you speak it (Psalm 139:4), but talk to Him anyway.  He wants to hear your voice; He wants to hear your heart.  And if it hurts too much to pray, then do what you can– even if all you can do is cry, moan, or sit in silence.  God promises He hears those prayers as well (Romans 8:26-27). And as you pray, release it all to Him.   Leave your requests, your fears, your heartache, and your burdens at His feet; then trust Him to take care of it all–to take care of you. He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

  • “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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Remember, my friend, peace is not the absence of strife; it is the presence of God flowing through it–through the storms, through the struggles, through the pain.

So seek Him, trust Him, and rest in Him today. He will direct your paths. He will take care of you. He will give you His peace.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13)

 

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