“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3 ESV).
Isaiah 26:3 is one of my life verses. I first memorized it in 1988 as I went on a visit weekend to Evangel College (it is Evangel University now) during my sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Surprisingly, at the time, I had a lot of peace. I was convinced that it wasn’t my calling to be a physical therapist. Somehow I knew that I needed to go and study the Bible.
I realize, in hindsight, that I was led by the Holy Spirit to memorize that verse, but at the time it seemed a bit odd. I have often in the years since relied on that verse to “hold it together.” In good times I was reminded by it that peace and security are only found in God. In the bad times I was reminded to shift my focus from the things that made me uneasy and fearful back to my faith and trust in God.
It’s interesting to me that the verse doesn’t tell us that trusting in God gives us just peace—it gives us “perfect peace.” What’s the difference?
I have an idea based on my personal experiences. Have you ever known that you were doing the right thing, but were still nervous or fearful about it? Perhaps you needed to end a relationship, but it was familiar and you there was some comfort that you obtained from it; and you were nervous about what your life would be like apart from that relationship. Or maybe you have peace that God wants you to seek out fellowship, but you have always avoided relationships.
The difference between peace and perfect peace has everything to do with our own anxieties. Peace is an intellectual acknowledgement of one’s situation. Perfect peace surpasses peace because it is a “whole-being” kind of peace.
Years ago one of my pastors described perfect peace this way: “It’s when you know that you know that you know; you just know it in your know-er.” It sounds a bit silly, but it gives a bit of understanding, too. When you have perfect peace there is no attached anxiety, no worry about the future, no concern about consequences. It goes past knowledge, through the heart and settles peacefully within the soul.
Paul spoke of it as contentment. The author of Hebrews called it rest. It was never God’s intention for us to be anxious.
When we keep our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus; when we keep His word, not only in our hearts, but also in our minds; when we learn to trust that God will never leave or forsake us; then whatever challenge arises, whatever decisions must be made, whatever path must be taken, we are promised perfect peace.
It begins with faith in Christ. It continues though the mind and into the heart. And it finds its home in the soul. It’s not an easy process, I know. But when we endeavor to draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Perfect peace may seem unattainable in whatever circumstance you may find yourself. But it can be found by fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrew 12:2).
Blessings on your week!