There’s one — and only one — thing you should never have a peace about. Never.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the words. “I don’t have a peace about it.” “I knew it was right because I had a peace about it.”
It’s a spiritual sounding reason for a Christian to make a decision. To turn down a request, make a strategic move for one’s future, hold onto one’s past. It’s neat, tidy, spiritual — almost sophisticated even. And it’s dead wrong.
Luther would call it feces, a papal bull commanding you to pay your way out of self-fulfillment purgatory into God’s will for your life by indulging ten emoticons and a freshly dropped pile of feelings.
The thing is, you should never base your decisions on having God’s peace. It’s not as nice as it sounds, and it’s not what God intends. It’s got God splashed all over the front, but it’s got you, you, you at the back end, pulling levers behind the curtain.
Making decisions based on “having a peace about it” is actually one of the most immature and self-satisfying things you can do. And it’s based on a misunderstanding of biblical peace.
You will always have peace about what you are most comfortable with, not how God wants to stretch you. And since God is constantly in a state of trying to stretch you into something you’re not (he calls this discipleship), he is pretty much always trying to make you uncomfortable and then giving you his peace as the antidote in the middle of your not peace.
Follow? If you don’t, let me explain. And understand our opinions — yours and mine — don’t matter. They are rubbish. All that matters is the Word of God.
In the Bible, peace is something you have because of what God has done, because he takes care of you. It is not something that directs you or tells you what to do. Faith, on the other hand, is for decisions you are contemplating; peace is for what you must accept because there’s nothing you can do about it.
Here’s what God says about peace in the Bible:
Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. Isaiah 26.12
We have peace because of what God has done in our lives.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14.27
Peace is our hope in Jesus in the midst of trouble and turmoil.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54.10
Peace is what God supplies abundantly when our mountains are shaken.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4.6-7
God’s peace will not guide our hearts and minds, it will guard our hearts and minds. It is his response to our worries when we trust in him. It is otherworldly and awesome and awe-inspiring and powerful, our best-friend-God come to save us, love us, be near us, befriend us in the moment we need Him most.
And there’s too many more like this to list.
But something’s missing.
There isn’t a single Bible verse about using peace to make a decision about the future. Instead, peace is us resting in what God has done and faith God will hold us in the future. There isn’t a single verse. Not even one. Not a little one, like “Jesus wept.” Not in the Bible, the Book of Truth.
In the Bible — God’s Bible, not ours — having peace is only about putting your decisions, anxieties, and cares in God’s hands. It is never about taking them into your hands. God actually has verses about that, and when he does there’s a very different message:
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11.14
He wants us to trust the wise counsel of Christians around us.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4.6-7
He wants us to seek wisdom above a feeling.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3.5-6
God will make our paths straight because we trust him, not because we feel him. He actually wants us to trust him when we don’t have any understanding of how it’s going to work out, when we can’t feel him, when we would otherwise have no peace. That’s faith.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19.20-21
God’s plans are often not discernible, but his purposes will be seen in time. In the meantime — have a peace about which way to go. No, in the meantime, listen to advice, accept instruction, gain wisdom.
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28.26
Feelings, from your mind, are biased by your comfort zone. Wisdom isn’t ethereal, fluffy, feely, or spiritual. It is God’s perspective, and it is what he commands us most often to seek in his Word.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119.105
Not your emotions. Not a spiritual feeling. Your Word. The Bible. Which way do you go? Study and discern the Word for insight.
the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11.2
Even for charismatics who think we should follow the Spirit (I am one), do you see who God says the Holy Spirit is? Not the Spirit of inner calm and tranquility, but the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge. He leads us to actual wisdom, not some internal Spiritual emoticon.
Even the Bible’s way of discerning spirits isn’t based on feeling peace (which the evil one is a master at deceiving), but using the Word of God. John says the mark of those who test spirits is they listen to the teaching of strong mature believers, which shows whether they follow “the spirit of truth [or] the spirit of error.” (1 John 4.6)
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12.15
Do you see?
Actually, people I’ve seen led by “having a peace about it” often exhibit more characteristics of being a fool rather than wise. They don’t listen to advice. They’re right in their own eyes. They enter situations — or stay in them — that other Christians warn is a foolish mistake. But instead of listening to this advice, and the multitude of Bible verses above, they choose to follow the peace they feel.
They’ll say it isn’t their peace, but God’s. But is that really possible to discern? Can you tell what peace is from you and what is from God, when you’re emotionally tied to the result? In the most important decision of your life, when your future is weighed in the balance in some crucial matter of your life, can you step from behind the attorney’s table, throw on a robe, grab a gavel, and judge where your feeling comes from? Conflict of interest, anyone?
That’s exactly why the Bible tells us to listen to godly counsel, seek wisdom, and pore over the Word of God — because you can’t make the decision based on your own feelings. And you certainly better not put the stamp of God’s Spirit on it to make it sound holy after rejecting all of the above because you “have a peace about it.”
Because left to your own devices, you’ll choose you, every time. You’ll choose immaturity. You’ll choose what you want. You’ll choose your comfort zone, every time. And I hate to break it to you — it hurts but it’s true — your peace will, too.
The problem with basing decisions on “God’s peace” is people feel peace most when they are in control. They feel peace doing what they want. Safely within their comfort zone.
From a human perspective, peace is all about control. That’s why every Bible verse on peace is about when your life is out of your control. “Have peace, because God.” God never makes a connection with peace and your control, your decision, life in your hands.
God wants you to have peace because He is in control.
Listen carefully, because this is a really important truth.
When you have peace about a decision that puts your life back in your control, most likely you are making the wrong decision.
I have seen control freak after control freak — people I love, but human — make decisions every wise person in their lives advised against, that the Bible taught against, but that put them in their comfort zones — what they wanted God’s will to be for their lives. Every time it gave them “peace,” so they did it. Really, it just put them in control.
I’ve seen girls dump guys with “God’s peace” as a coverup, when they actually had fear issues that made them lose their peace. All of them are still single now because they haven’t realized God wants to lead them into a lack of peace to strengthen their dependance on him. One even decided to become a lesbian to avoid her fear of relationships with men.
I’ve seen church leaders unwilling to give up positions or ministries because they didn’t have a peace, when they were really struggling with a need for control in their lives, which robbed them of the place God wanted to take them in him.
I’ve seen friends start relationships, take positions, leave them, and go in new life directions that every mature Christian warned them were unbiblical or unwise, but that gave them peace — and coincidentally happened to be exactly what they wanted, as well. So they went, guided by this internal meter.
‘Cause in the end, being led by God’s peace is often a guise for our control.
I know this only too well.
When I got the courage to ask the woman who is my wife to marry me, after saying okay (not yes), she immediately wanted to discuss dates. Right there on the beach with the waves of our fresh commitment still pearling expectantly upon the shore. I was freaked out. “I came out here to get engaged, not married!” I remember thinking. “Man, this girl moves quickly!”
It was an irrational fear; the dates were months away. And I wanted to make her dream come true, so when she suggested, “Do you want to get married in September or November? …I’m thinking September,” I replied, “Let’s do September.”
But she went on, “Do you want September 10th or September 17th? I’m thinking September 10th.”
This was too much for me. I responded — and I’m ashamed of this — “How ’bout September 24th?”
I prayed about it in that moment. I can tell you I had NO peace whatsoever about September 10th or September 17th. I remember thinking if we do September 24th the extra week might give me more time to prepare myself for the lifelong commitment. Even my spiritual peace, alerting me strongly it seemed at the time, was shouting out that there was something dreadfully wrong with those dates.
Then, in a moment, my spiritual maturity grew three sizes that day — like the Grinch’s heart in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I remember distinctly thinking at the time, “Wait a second. She wants the 10th. What’s the difference between those few weeks (as far as wisdom)? If she wants September 10th, give her September 10th.” So I did.
Our son was conceived that week.
Three days after our wedding, exactly on an ovulation date, on the 3rd day of our honeymoon, on September 13th, in complete mockery of my lack of peace, God’s great power moved in the lives of two ignorant recent-virgins to create a beautiful baby boy.
9 months and 2 days after our wedding Luke Israel Demsick was born. Do you see how perfect God’s plan is? And how it doesn’t feel like it at all? And that even in our peace (*gasp*) we’d ruin it if we based it on how we felt at the time?
I could’ve gone by the peace I didn’t feel when I prayed, we could’ve been married on September 24th — what I wanted out of my insecurity — but Luke Israel Demsick would’ve never entered the world. He would’ve missed the whole thing. And we — and a whole world with us — would’ve been the ones who lost out.
That’s the way it always is when we base our decisions on something that feels right, like peace. The outcome is limited to our own broken, warped humanity. It doesn’t get to be God-sized. It doesn’t get to be breathtaking, like my two-year-old son.
God calls us not to make decisions based on having peace, but on his Word, on wisdom, and on the godly counsel that follows it. And he calls us to place our trust in him through the process and find peace in that and only that.
The truth is, if I’d listened to how I felt before making the biggest decision of my life it wouldn’t have been God’s peace. It would’ve been mine.
And God’s plans for me and my family were so much bigger.
That’s the one thing — and the only thing — Christians should never have a peace about. We should never have a peace about basing our lives on that.
Are there any ways “having a peace” has kept you in a situation that’s comfortable, when you should have relied on God’s Word, wise advice, and faith instead?