June 15, 2017 • Life for Leaders
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.
I can still hear echoes of my Sunday School teacher quoting Isaiah 26:3 in the classic language of the King James Version: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” What an amazing, alluring promise! “Perfect peace” accurately renders the Hebrew original, which reads literally, shalom shalom. Don’t you want to be kept in perfect peace?
How do we experience perfect peace? First, we recognize that it is a gift from God, not something we produce merely by our human efforts. Though retreats, silence, meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help us to experience peace, perfect peace is not something we create, but something we receive. Yet, we can put ourselves in a position to receive God’s peace by trusting in him. Even in hard times, even when it seems as if God is absent, we nevertheless lean back into his strong arms.
Moreover, we open our hearts to God’s peace by fixing our thoughts upon him. We allow the Scripture to reveal God to us in truth. We meditate upon God’s written word, letting it percolate from our minds to our hearts. When we face trial or temptation, we turn our thoughts to the Lord, claiming his goodness and grace. When our lives are filled with peril, we remember God’s promises. The more we allow the truth of God to permeate our souls, the less we’ll be troubled by earthly woes, and the more we’ll be ready to receive the gift of perfect peace.
Notice also that in Isaiah 26, peace isn’t something experienced by isolated individuals. Rather, it is shared by God’s people who live in a “strong city” (26:2). Thus, as it says in verse 12, “LORD, you establish peace for us.” For us, plural, not just for me, singular. This is not to deny the peace we individually receive from the Lord. God does grant peace to each of us. But perfect peace, peace that is full and complete, will necessarily be something we share with others.
Thus, after proclaiming that God will keep in perfect peace “those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in [God],” the psalmist exhorts us to “Trust in the LORD forever” (Isa. 26:4). The plural imperative “trust” reminds us that we are encouraged and empowered to trust God when we are deeply engaged with the people of God.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have there been times in your life when you have experienced something like perfect peace?
What put you in a position to receive this gift?
What helps you today to have your thoughts fixed upon God?
What helps you to trust God more consistently?
Do you need to trust God with a particular need or concern today? Will you ask God to help you trust him more? Will you ask a brother or sister to pray for you?
Gracious God, first, I thank you for those times when you have given me the gift of supernatural peace. I remember moments in my life when I was weighed down by grief and worry, yet, as I turned to you, you graciously filled my heart with the calm assurance that comes from knowing the living God. How grateful I am!
Lord, I wish I could live in your peace at all times. The truth is that I’m not always ready to trust you fully. I can fill my mind with worries rather than fixing my thoughts on you. So I ask for your help. May I learn to focus on you, rather than on that which troubles me. May your word so fill my mind and heart that I’m regularly in a position to receive the gift of your perfect peace. May I live in fellowship with your people, who can help me trust you more.
Finally, I ask that you help me be an instrument of your peace to others. May I give away that which you have so generously showered upon me. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Peace Be with You
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
While I agree that the external practice of meditation and breathing exercises alone cannot bring perfect peace, I believe it is too dismissive to say that it cannot, period. I believe mindfulness, put in context as you stated later, in our trust in God and His truth and love is a necessary part of that peace. As we come closer in our own peace through that mindfulness in every minute of our lives, we will truly come to trust in the Lord in whatever He chooses to give to us, therein blurring the line between our “holy” selves and our “mundane” selves, trusting in the Lord in every second of our lives. I believe it is the same thing that the Buddha is talking about in nirvana as was Isaiah. I think we would do well to not be so dismissive of different practices to get to the same relationship with God.
Thanks for your comment. I have edited what I originally wrote, thank to your input. – Mark