How to Have Peace Like a River
by Pastor Dan Delzell
I have never met a person who didn’t want to experience peace. I am guessing you haven’t either. We all long for it deep within our being. Our souls need peace the way our bodies need oxygen. There is no substitute for it.
It should come as no surprise to us that our Creator knows what will bring us peace. This is what He had to say on the subject when speaking to His children in the Old Testament: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river.” (Isaiah 48:17,18)
By nature, we tend to turn away from God’s commands rather than toward them. Our hearts seem to naturally gravitate toward almost anything other than our Creator. We seem to have an ingrained aversion to Him, and it feels natural to simply ignore Him. That is, until we want something from Him.
That is not the way God created it to be. He wants a close relationship with His children. And just like in every family, there are rules to be followed. When those rules get disregarded in the home or in matters of faith, the result is chaos. “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22)
We enter a relationship with the Father through faith in the Son. We enjoy the peace of God as we do what it says in the words of the old hymn: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” It’s very similar to what happens in every family. Show me a family where the children couldn’t care less about obeying their parents, and I will show you a family where everyone is miserable.
No one in their right mind would ever exchange “peace like a river” for “chaos like a volcano.” And yet, that sadly seems to be the daily experience for more and more families today. When children pay no attention to the commands of their parents, their rebellion leads to nothing but ultimate frustration. When parents are rebelling against God, it stands to reason that their children should likewise rebel against them. What goes around comes around. Rebellion is in our blood, and we simply pass that spirit on to our children whenever we model it for them.
The Bible says, “God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Cor. 14:33) Does it feel today like your life is out of order? Do you feel constantly rushed and restless in your spirit? A growing number people today seem to be experiencing that uncomfortable sensation. I recently read an article entitled, “Americans ‘Snapping’ by the Millions.” For all of our modern conveniences and gadgets, there seems to be less real peace than ever before. Why? Simply put, we invite restlessness into our life anytime we leave God out of the equation. We need to remember that without God, there would be no equation in the first place. It all revolves around Him. After all, He is God.
What did you think? That He would create a world to revolve around man instead? All we have to do is look around us to see what happens when man thinks He is the center of the universe. Just because you make yourself the center of your universe does not mean that God designed you to look at it that way. It simply means that man by nature has had things backwards for a very long time.
It is easy to live life always moving against the current of how God designed it to be. And even though it is easy and natural to go that way, it also makes you feel “out of sorts” with your Creator. You won’t get in His flow that way. You won’t experience His peace which flows like a river. God designed man to experience peace when we are doing His will. There is no other way to live a peaceful life, at least not with God’s peace. And any “peace” that is not grounded in a relationship with Jesus Christ is temporary at best. It not only won’t last, but it won’t satisfy the deepest longings of your soul.
So do you want that river of peace in your life today? Know Christ and know peace. No Christ results in no peace. If you are already a believer, how are things going in your walk with the Lord? Is there any area of open disobedience? God’s children have a long history of rebellious behavior. All of us are guilty of it. We have all gone our own way. We all need God’s forgiveness, as well as the new heart and new desires which only He can give us.
Horatio Spafford was a man who nearly 150 years ago came to know firsthand a little something about that river of God’s peace. His four daughters were on a ship that was crossing the Atlantic when it collided with another sea vessel. All four of his daughters were killed, and only his wife survived. As Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, his ship passed near where his daughters had died. It was there that he penned the words to the well-known hymn, “It is Well with My Soul.”
This grieving father had a close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He wrote, “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.” Who but the Lord could ever give a grieving parent this genuine inner peace and strength? This is “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” (Phil. 4:7) The peace of God that flowed to those sorrowful parents is the same peace which God continues to provide to people today.
This planet we call home is not heaven. Therefore, we need “the river of heaven” to flow down and sweep us up in its peace and joy. When Jesus came into our world, He brought that river right to our doorstep. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.” (Psalm 46:4) Are you ready to get in the flow of that glad stream and that river of peace? Or do you still think that personal peace can be achieved through something or someone other than Jesus Christ?