A quick scan of my Google search results showed at least a dozen resorts promising absolute “peace and quiet.”
For the low, low price of thousands of dollars, I could escape the chaos of day-to-day life and buy myself some calm. Or so the various advertisements promised. Scanning websites covered with glittering ocean-scape pictures, I was tempted to believe them. I could use some peace. And these crystalline condos had no problem making their promise: Peace can be purchased. Captured. Consumed like a meal from a 5-star restaurant. As long as you’re willing to pay the price.
Of course, I know their promise doesn’t quite deliver. Yes, I’ve taken a few beach vacations, and we always have a good time. And yes, for a few days, we experience a brief reprieve from the busyness of daily life. I’m all for our annual family vacations, and I have seen the value of the investment of time and money in our relationships.
But absolute peace and quiet? Not even close.
No vacation, no matter the price tag, can deliver on such a claim. Regardless of the resort’s cost or location, we can still hear the ring of late-night music, the whine of moody teenagers, and the constant din of other vacationers negotiating real life through conflicts and conversations, even though we all paid a hefty price to escape it all. And, of course, our real lives always loom on the horizon, full of various challenges and question marks. We can never quite forget what is waiting for us when our vacation comes to an end. Reality doesn’t go away, no matter the price.
Which leads me to an important and shoulder-shaking conclusion:
Peace can not be bought. It can only be received.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”
Isaiah 26:3-4 NIV
I’ve been meditating on these two verses for the past couple of weeks. In them, the prophet Isaiah makes a claim he believes he can deliver. A promise of perfect peace. Is it possible? Can he really deliver? Let’s break down the keywords in Isaiah’s claim:
- “Keep.” Our perfect peace is “kept,” which comes from a Hebrew word that means to guard, watch, protect, and preserve. Picture a soldier standing firmly beside you, tasked with guarding your peace. This is what Isaiah says the Father does for us. He is our watchman in the night, the keeper of our peace. He doesn’t sleep so you and I can.
- “Perfect peace.” This is the word we know as Shalom. Although it is translated as “peace,” it actually means far more than that. It is safety and security. It means to be complete to the point of utter tranquility and wholeness. God’s perfect peace blows an ocean vacation out of the blue water.
- “Minds.” The Hebrew word here is yeser, which simply is our inclination, desires, motive, and thoughts. These are the plans and purposes we form in our minds. Here, Isaiah is telling us that the secret of our peace is to keep all our plans, desires, purposes, and thoughts steadfastly anchored to the knowledge of God Himself as our Guard, Refuge, and Fortress. We aren’t depending on our plans to work out. We’re depending on God to do what He said he would do.
- “Trust.” The Hebrew root here means exactly what you think it does: to put confidence in. To rely on.
Now, with this context, go back and read those two familiar verses in Isaiah again. Here is my best attempt at a paraphrase:
Father God, you stand guard over my peace. You alone make me complete, whole, and secure, no matter what happens around me. You never take your eye off me — my health, my children, my people, my finances, my future … you stand guard over all of it. My only job? To keep my eyes trained on YOU, not my circumstances. When I do this, when I trust You to stand guard over me and everything precious to me, the payout is peace. Right here, right now, without writing a check or traveling anywhere. Your peace costs me nothing but trust. And You are the only One rock solid enough to hold my trust.
Perfect peace all boils down to TRUST. Can we trust God to keep watch through the night? Can we trust that He will stand guard over our people, our person, and our peace? Can we rely on His promises of unfailing love, perfect plans, and eternal redemption of all things?
This is Shalom. This is the peace we crave. Everything else is nothing more than a pricey diversion.