Thoughts on the Gospel by David Joy


March 2016 No 230

‘the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,’ Philippians Ch 4 v 7

Dawn Disturbed 
One morning, I stood by the seashore and watched the sun slowly rising from behind the horizon. The sea was calm, disturbed only by the sound of little wavelets rippling on to the shingle beach and disturbing sleeping pebbles that grumbled softly as the sea awoke them from their peaceful slumber. A sense of peace came over me and I sat down on a large rock to enjoy it. 

Then, suddenly, as day broke, the calmness of the dawn was violently shaken as large flocks of geese and swans, terrified by hunter’s guns, took to the air from the fields where they had settled for the night.

Soon an armada of birds was flying overhead, their strident calls and beating wings resounding across the peaceful skies above me.

My sense of peace disturbed by the background orchestra of sound, I rose from my peaceful seat and set off for a walk across the fields.  Before long I found myself reflecting on how our peace, as believers in Jesus, can like that of the swans and geese, be unexpectedly shattered.

Trouble at Times of Peace
It was during a period of peace’ when God had provided food for each day, that the widow from Zarephath’s son became ill; and ‘his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him,’ 1 Kings 17 v 17. 

When David the Psalmist ‘tarried still at Jerusalem,’ 2 Samuel 11 v 1, he appeared to have been enjoying a time of peace for we are told it was in the evening ‘David arose from off his bed,’ 2 Samuel 11v2.

But, it was then that he fell into the sin which resulted in him being told by God ‘the sword shall never depart from thine house,’ 2 Samuel 12 v 10.

Scripture is full of pointers to remind us that, when we feel at our strongest or things are going well, we should be most on our guard.

A Sleeping Heron 
Still accompanied by the turmoil and noise, my steps took me past a small pond where a heron, partly concealed by long grass, was asleep on a little island.

I found my thoughts focussed on the fact that the heron seemed to be at peace despite all that was going on around it and I marvelled at its peaceful demeanour.

And I wished I could be as peaceful whenever my life, like that of the sleeping bird, is disturbed by intruding situations!

A Storm at Sea
My mind drifted to the Bible’s account of the time when Jesus was sleeping peacefully on a little ship during such a great storm ‘that the ship was covered by the waves,’ Matthew 8 v 24. His disciples, however, were terrified, even although Jesus was with them.

Should they have been afraid? Would we have been?

Peace from Past Experience
The heron seemed oblivious of my presence but as I drew nearer it slowly roused itself. Moments later it rose into the air and flew gracefully away towards the shelter of some distant trees.

As I compared the frantic flight of the fleeing swans to the peaceful demeanour of the heron I wondered why the heron was able to remain at peace despite the banging of the hunter’s guns and the noise from the fleeing birds. Could it be that it knew from past experience that the hunting party would not trouble it?

Have we learned from our past experiences and from those of others that we can and should enjoy peace if we are unreservedly trusting in the Lord Jesus?

Safety and Peace
The heron may have felt secure on its island in the

pond, because it was partially hidden by the long grass around it. But friends, the safety we obtain through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not partial but complete!

The widow woman from Zarephath had her son restored to her and was able to say to Elijah ‘...I know... that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth,’ 1 Kings 17 v 24. May this be our confession regarding God’s Word!

David, the sweet psalmist of Israel was, despite his troubled life, able to say that ‘I will both lay me down in peace and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety,’ Psalm 4 v 8.

And the terrified disciples who found the raging storm turned into ’a great calm,’ Matthew 8 v 26, marvelled at Jesus’ power saying ‘What manner of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey Him,’ Matthew 8 v 27.

The Peace of God 
May we, by total trust in God, fortified by the knowledge of the experiences of those in past days, be so assured of the Lord’s ability to provide peace and safety, that we can always say regarding Him ‘Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee,’ Isaiah 26 v3.’

Let us then learn to share all our troubles with the Lord so that, whether at peace or in turmoil, we enjoy the calming and reassuring effect of ‘the peace of God, which passeth all understanding’ Philippians 4 v 7.