Listening to the song Peace Like a River, I thought of the peace that has pervaded my life. I thank the Lord for a peace that is able to take us through all manner of hard places, sorrow, pain, and yes, joy. It is so total.
Of course it doesn’t just pour over us willy–nilly. It results from dedication to God, a complete dedication, not one that reserves little bits of our own way and our self. It doesn’t come when we only dedicate a part of our heart to God. It doesn’t happen when we come to the Lord just wanting to miss hell. It doesn’t come because we have suffered a terrible heartache or loss or pain and we turn to God to get out from under it. We don’t find that Peace because we have made some serious financial or social mistake and we are hoping God can fix it for us. It doesn’t come when we only want to be accepted in the congregation where we are attending. It doesn’t come because our parents expect us to be Christians. When we come to God for those reason we will never find his peace.
We only find that peace when we commit our heart, life, being to Him. I’m not sure when that realization came to me. Surely before my husband died. Maybe it was during the time I spent on the mission. I know I experienced God’s Peace before that, but the realization that His Peace would stay with me regardless of circumstances must have become an actuality during that time.
When Louie died, I experienced God’s Peace beyond any human understanding. The word ‘devastation’ is the closest I could ever come to describing my feelings then. I looked ahead in my life and only focused on one bright spot at the end of a long black tunnel, the bright spot where heaven would reunite us. But I had two very young children. I couldn’t go for a lot of years yet. So I fell down into the vast billows of God’s Peace.
I’ve said many times it was as though God covered me over with a Huge Comforter of His Love. He brought me through those first days and weeks of loss and a few times in the middle of the night it seemed He would lift just a tiny corner of His Comforter and say, “here, this is what it would be like without Me.” And the waves of desolation would crash around me until He tucked me in again like a Father does his child. I thanked him then and I’ve thanked Him many times since during times of awful heartache and during years of pain with my knees and through three surgeries. That peace has always remained.
Lean back, close your eyes and listen to the song again. If you don’t know what that peace is in your own life, search your heart and root out those little bits of self you’ve been holding on to.