Looking For Peace?
Judges 6:22-24, “When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the Lord, he said, ‘Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.’ Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The LORD is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”
Peace. How desperately we long for it. How seldom we ever truly experience it. I marvel at the vast numbers of people who fight their way through life always longing and forever looking for a peace of mind and heart that seems ever elusive. Their lives are needlessly weighted down by worries and fears that they need not carry. Overly concerned about things they cannot control, their past haunts them and the future looms over them like some dark, foreboding shadow. They cannot rest. They cannot relax. They cannot find either respite or refuge amidst the thunderous turmoils and troubles of daily living. No comfort. No sense of safety or security. No confidence that “everything will be alright.” No quietness or tranquility. The only thing greater than the chaos of their circumstances is the confusion that resides within their spirit. They have no peace.
If ever anyone had a reason to be afraid, it was Gideon. He had just seen the angel of the Lord face to face. From the earliest of times (cf. Gen. 16:13; 32:30) religious tradition taught that to see the face of God meant death. Immediate and instantaneous death. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Dead. In the aftermath of the angel’s vanishing act Gideon’s awareness was awakened and he recognized that he had been in the presence of the divine. Only one thing remained from his vantage point. His days were numbered. His very breaths were numbered. Death was imminent. So, he cried out to God. He prepared himself to meet his Maker. He readied himself for that final journey into eternity.
But then God spoke. “Peace to you, do not fear...” With just a word God was able to calm the storm inside Gideon’s heart. Fear subsided. Worry vanished. Concerns were alleviated. The one thing that Gideon most needed at that moment, the one thing he could not produce of his own strength or ability… God ushered it in with just a word. Just look at the transformation that takes place in Gideon. Within moments he goes from planning his death to building an altar. “Alas” has given way to awe. Fear has been replaced by worship. The turmoil that just moments before had ruled the day has now been displaced by a peace that did indeed pass all understanding.
In our lives we will never know peace apart from Him. His words are peace. His presence is peace. Bottom line? He is our peace. I know this will sound cliché but I really like that old bumper sticker, “Know God. Know Peace. No God. No Peace.” Apart from Him we will never have true, lasting peace. We will have moments, seasons of peace at best. But they will always be subject to the circumstances of life. Speaking for myself, I want that peace that is not dependent upon blue skies and sunshine. I want His peace. I want to know rest and security even when the rain is pouring down.
The temptation for all of us is too become so busy with the stuff of daily living that He becomes a side issue in our lives. It’s not that we don’t love Him. Rather, we have just become overly concerned and consumed with other things. Work. Family. Hobbies. Entertainment. Even church commitments at times. Our time alone with Him begins to diminish. The Bible lies forgotten. Prayer becomes ignored. Worship is increasingly sporadic. And all the while we wonder why we are so stressed, so worried, so fearful? We wonder where has the peace gone? It hasn’t gone anywhere. We are the ones who moved. Gideon’s outlook changed instantly when God spoke to him. In a matter of mere seconds Gideon experienced the peace of God that passed all understanding. And it most certainly quieted his heart and his mind. I want to encourage each of us today to turn to Him if we find ourselves in need of peace. The things of this world will never bring peace. Only in His word, only in His presence, only in Him will we find the peace we so desperately seek.