Being at rest is better than being right. Would you agree?
I used to unwisely merge the two, thinking that I would be fully contented and at rest only when I had offloaded what was on my chest and got others to see and agree with my viewpoint. Quite possibly I still do, far too often for my own good.
The more seasoned among you would quickly agree with the above that sometimes keeping silent or seeking peace and avoiding conflict may be the better option.
That’s not to say that we should never speak up and simply consign ourselves to being pushovers and doormats, so that we can be “at rest”.
Because the rest we’re really interested in having is true rest, and not just a physical, mental or emotional rest per se.
It is a rest which emanates from the deepest recesses of the spirit and flows out to our soul and body, that comes from knowing we have chosen the best action for that situation, and acted in line with the wisdom, will and purpose of God.
It may not always be a matter of winning an argument or debate, but perhaps involve deciding on a business transaction, extending financial help to someone, or even saying something unexpected to a family member, friend, or complete stranger.
Experience, acumen, and a sincere heart can only get us so far. They can’t give us a guaranteed knowledge of the back-end details behind a deal or the economic situation weeks and months down the road, they can’t show us the real need and challenges of people who may appear fine on the surface, and they certainly can’t uncover the desperate hunger of a heart craving an unconditionally secure love and acceptance behind pious lips and busily working hands.
Only God sees and knows everything about us and around us, from the end to the beginning.
And only God can reach inside to send His love and light piercing through the walls and the darkness to break us free from bondages we might not even realise we’re in.
Jesus, God manifested in the flesh, always operated in this manner. Every word and deed of Jesus fulfilled a purpose. He always said and did exactly what was necessary to love people while addressing all their hang-ups, whether it was sharing stories to reveal the Father’s heart, strong criticism to jolt them out of obstinate and empty religiosity, open challenges to batter their self-righteousness and bring them to the end of themselves, a period of silence and nonresponse to gently remove the veil of hypocrisy, or even just spending time to eat and be with them.
Jesus never had to retract a word or a step. Every word and act of His was perfectly weighted and exactly appropriate for the occasion.
Could we possibly learn to do the same? Yes – not by relying on external information or our own intellect and experience – but by following the leading of peace in the spirit:
“For you will go out [from exile] with joy and be led forth [by the Lord Himself] with peace;” (Isaiah 55:12, AMP)
This leading of peace in the spirit can only be experienced by Christians, because God only sends His Holy Spirit to indwell us and become one with our spirit when we receive Jesus.
We start behaving like Jesus when we flow with the leading of the Holy Spirit, because it is Jesus’s own Spirit. It is God’s own Spirit.
The Bible says this about wisdom:
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. (Proverbs 3:17)
The Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit of wisdom, leads and directs Christians through a presence or absence of peace, to do what’s best for any given situation, regardless of appearances on the surface.
So often Christians miss the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, because they’re still preoccupied with waiting for an outward sign or word from God, not realising that under the New Covenant that Jesus ushered in through the cross, God has become so close to the believer, even to the point of living in us through His Spirit.
Just as babies don’t have to be taught to recognise their mother’s voice amongst a crowd, Christians shouldn’t need to worry or wonder if they can recognise God’s voice.
It’s that still small voice on the inside – the one that is always warm, friendly, comforting, and encouraging, as consistently portrayed in the Bible when Jesus speaks to His own.
But more often than not He doesn’t lead us through spoken words, just an inner nudging that is accompanied by peace or an uncomfortable lack of peace as we make to do something.
He’s that close. All we need to do is to flow with Him.
A clue to discerning the leading of peace by the Holy Spirit more clearly and accurately lies in the text preceding Isaiah 55:12 (our reference verse above).
Isaiah 53 talks of the suffering and sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 54 describes the perpetual covenant of peace that follows Jesus’s finished work at the cross, where God will no longer ever be angry with us and no oppression or weapon can successfully come against us because our righteousness is from the Lord Himself.
Isaiah 55 then calls us to live the abundant life, exhorting and reminding us to listen carefully to what God has said – which in this context directly refers to what has just been said in Isaiah 53 and 54 – before going on to tell us that God’s ways are higher than ours, His word and promises are sure, and He will lead us with peace.
So the more we hear about and keep our central focus on Jesus’s finished work at the cross and our perpetual covenant of peace and abundance through the Lord being our righteousness, the more alert we will be to His leading of peace!
And even if at times you may miss the leading and pick the wrong path, don’t worry – it’s no biggie. Just dust yourself off and move on.
There’s really no need to camp or dwell on what’s happened and done, because Jesus knows about it and He will take care of it. He promises that He will cause all things – whether good or bad – to work for our good (Romans 8:28), while teaching us some things along the way.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.