On a recent quick trip out of town, Paul and I hiked up to one of Georgia's most beautiful sites- Amicalola Falls. So very gorgeous! That view! I highly recommend it. Definitely work the exertion and after the workout, you can allow yourself to gorge on dessert. Win/win.
But I digress.
As we hiked by the stream that led us up to the breathtaking falls, I thought about the places where Scripture describes "peace" as being like a river. ( I realize I was hiking by a stream and not a river but work with me here. The dictionary defines "stream" as "small river" , ok ? OK, tks. :)
My favorite "peace like a river " verse is Isaiah 48:18 where God is speaking to wayward Israel, His people who are in captivity in Babylon. He says
Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea
Let's jump right into the verse to unpack it and we'll come back to the beginning at the end.
Why does God describe "peace" as a river? Doesn't it seem to make more sense to describe peace as a calm, quiet lake? Or a serene meadow? Or even a beautiful uninhabited forest? Why a river?
In order to answer that question, let's consider the characteristics of a river. Just to name a few:
1. continuously flowing water- volume of flow can change depending on water conditions - sometimes gentle and placid, other times fast and fierce - always moving towards its goal 2. possessing energy and power 3. contains life (fish) 4. sustains life/provides drink (animals and plants beside it,not only those in it ) 5. carries along things in its current 6. its current affects the topography of the landscape it touches 7. source of water comes from place other that itself
Hmmmmmmm...as I pondered those characteristics, I began to understand some reasons why God uses a river to describe His peace.
His peace is not static. It is energetic and powerful. Instead of "calm", I think we should view peace as "confident". In fact, the way to define peace is "confidence in the goodness of God".
Having His peace in our lives imbues the qualities of a river to our walk - energy, power, confidence. And it even splashes, if you will, onto the lives of others, a conduit of life. Nourishing and refreshing those around it.
And just like the river cuts its way through the landscape, eroding sharp edges, forging new pathways, so it is with peace in the lives of those it inhabits. Confidence in God's goodness changes us. Enables us to navigate new paths, face difficult foes, and equips us to keep moving instead of being paralyzed by fear. Regardless of its surroundings, always moving towards the goal.
Maybe the most important thing about rivers...and peace...is that the water supply that does all these things comes from a source other than itself. An upland spring or waterfall furnishes the water that makes the river.
And peace? Peace that supplies confidence, freedom from anxiety, energy, power, refreshment, change...it is only found in Christ. John 14:27 conveys Jesus's promise Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you
Oh, one more thing. Remember that first part of the verse in Isaiah that we skipped over to get to the river part? Here it is again : Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Yes, Jesus gives us peace.
But just like a dam can block the flow of a river, so our disobedience to His commands will prevent His peace.
If you are not experiencing the power and confidence and energy of His peace, ask the Lord to show you any area where you are failing to obey Him. He wants you to have His peace...He will reveal the block.