The presence or absence of a quiet heart is part of the way that He shepherds us. The absence of His peace is the stuff of madness to me and it always draws me home.
— Heather McEwan
COMING home to peace; a peace that compels itself to our understanding because we cannot understand it. And Psalm 131 pictures such a peace of humble acceptance; being perfectly prepared in a moment to return to God.
Verse 2 says, “Surely have I calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me — I have ceased fretting.”
There is a direct link between a lack of peace — a tormenting presence — and that striving we have to be better than others, to know better, and to do life on our own.
There is also a direct link between a peace we have always hoped for — a calmed and quieted soul — and a taking of responsibility for our own lives, which comes from repentance.
Life was never meant to be lived apart from God. Life was also never meant to be run according to a rebellious heart.
When the Shepherd marks out a way to live we are fools to ignore it. Yet, we inevitably give it a go on our own. We need to learn the hard way, and we do.
There are probably no guarantees in life, but this one I know to be the greatest existential truth: peace within is peace with God.
Peace with God is living according to the truth. To stray from truth is to stray from doing what is right. Righteousness and peace are intrinsically linked. There are no fewer than seventeen verses in the Bible that acknowledge this link.*
When we do what is right we bequeath for ourselves peace. Obeying God’s law of righteousness, though it sounds terribly old fashioned, never goes out of fashion. It never changes. We only receive peace when we have done what is right. And to repent is to do what is right. Perhaps to repent — to turn back to God, in truth — is the only way of doing what is right. I am satisfied that it is.
I am happy to take responsibility for my life, for the things that I do and don’t do. For in taking responsibility I, too, can sit like a child weaned of his or her mother. In that moment of taking responsibility, or repenting, I have become mature, for that moment. And peace is mine.
Peace within is peace with God. Peace with God is doing what is right. Peace within is doing what is right.
God’s shepherd heart shepherds through this eternal law: do what is right to be at peace. To follow Jesus is to make a decision to live that way each day.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.
*Where righteousness and peace are linked in the Bible: Psalm 72:2; 72:7; 85:10; Isaiah 9:7; 32:17; 48:18; 54:17; 58:8; 60:17; 62:1; Daniel 4:27; Romans 5:1; 14:17; 2 Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 12:11; James 3:18.