Peace That Passes Understanding by Kathleen Horvath

With the exception of this school year, I have had the privilege of being the Worship Leader for our church’s Sunday school program for the past several years.  I have been blessed to be able to teach our Sunday school children (and their guests) several songs about Jesus and His love for us.  It was so heartwarming to see all the children’s faces light up and to see their big smiles each Sunday.  At times, I would ask the children what they thought about a particular song and what that song meant to them.  

One of the songs we would sing is “I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down In My Heart…”  When we would get to the third verse, “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding, down in my heart…,” the kids would look at me a little strange.  One Sunday, we talked about “the peace that passes understanding” and what that means to them.  They all had very good responses.  I thought I knew what that peace looked like and felt like although I couldn’t quite describe it to the children.  I think I stumbled around and gave them the best answer I could think of at that time.  However, it wasn’t until recently, that I really came to know what that “peace that passes understanding” means to me.

About two weeks ago, my heart was struggling with something that I thought was pretty big.  I had prayed about this situation for a very long time and asked God for direction and guidance.  However, it wasn’t until I finally started listening to God (and to good friends He has placed in my life to help me) that I realized I needed to be still for a while and listen to what God was telling me to do.  I was always so busy trying to help others and be there for others that I didn’t realize I needed help and healing in some areas, too.  God gave me this thought, this vision, that I was living my life like I was on an airplane that was going down.  Oxygen masks were coming down out of the ceiling of the plane and I was scrambling to put on everyone else’s mask instead of doing what the flight attendant tells you to do (put your own oxygen mask on first before trying to assist others).   I knew if I continued to put other people’s oxygen masks on first before I put on my own oxygen mask, I wouldn’t be able to help anyone, including myself.     

I am not saying it was wrong to help others.  However, at times, I was “helping others” to avoid facing problems in my own life.  My defense mechanism (even as a child) was either to run away and avoid any really painful conflicts, or to go get someone else to fight my battles for me.  If I could “run away” and go help someone else, then I could just stuff my feelings and hurts and disappointments inside my heart and say I had peace for a while instead of dealing with issues head on.  However, things that are stuffed for any length of time with no release usually have a way of exploding sooner or later.  The peace I thought I had was only temporary.  It wasn’t God’s everlasting peace.    

This issue that I was struggling with recently was something that I felt that God was telling me to do; something which I didn’t particularly want to do or face.  But, instead of being Jonah and running away this time, I chose to sit still and listen for God’s direction.  I wanted wisdom from God so that I would know what to do.  I knew wisdom was mine for the asking (James 1:5), but I had to do my part.  I had to be better about reading God’s word and applying it to my life.  So, I took a step back from helping others and prayed about what I should do.  It wasn’t very long before I heard God whisper the answer to me.  The answer was so very easy, but also a little scary.  I was afraid to take the first step.  However, God continued to whisper to me and brought to mind Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Therefore, I knew that whatever the outcome was, it was going to be okay.  I know that I love God and I know that he has been calling me all my life.  And let me tell you, He has had one tenacious grip on this child.  

As soon as I took that step of faith and listened to what God told me to do, I felt something inside me snap and release (probably my pride, but that is another story).   I could honestly say that I realized what “peace that passes understanding” feels like.  It’s the peace in knowing that no matter what, everything will be okay if you just listen to God’s voice and direction.  It’s a guarantee you can’t find anywhere else.  It’s a reminder that God doesn’t always give us what we want, but he always gives us what we need even though we may not realize it at first.  
Since that day when something “snapped” inside of me, so many things have become clearer to me.  I used to be afraid to open my “closet” and see all those ugly skeletons hanging there.  But, I don’t let those skeletons scare me anymore because I am finally bringing them into the light.  Nothing in the dark is as big or as bad as you think once it’s brought into the light.  I still have the “closet” because I can’t change that fact.  However, in my mind, I have written in big, bold letters “Past Mistakes/Lessons Learned” on that closet door.  I know I have not only asked for forgiveness for those past mistakes, but I have turned from my old ways.  I don’t have to be afraid anymore.  These lessons I’ve learned and those past mistakes I’ve made have actually qualified me for the work of God.   They are my story.  No one else is qualified to tell my story.  God gave that to me to share for His glory and when it is time for me to take the next step in the journey of telling my story, I know two things to be true:  1) He will be there with me every step of the way; 2) His timing will be perfect—as always.  

The peace that passes all understanding only comes from God.  It is the only real everlasting peace available.  

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)