Severe Peace: I’d never said it that way before when telling the story but the phrase came out when I was describing a period of clearest direction from God in my life to a colleague. After I said it, it struck both of us as a unique way to express the thought. As I reflected on the phrase later in the day, I realized I had stumbled on the right way to describe God’s leading in the situation.
Flashback to years before.
I had been serving at an institution that had started out positively but seemed to be crumbling at every turn. I had begun to question God’s leading about taking the position and what I thought I was supposed to accomplish in the role. Did God really lead me? Was this a complete miss on my part and that of my wife (it was a joint prayer and decision)? As stress compounded, I questioned God asking what was I supposed to learn from the experience. . .I was ready to move on. Finally, the day came when there was a release. God said it was time to move on. . .and there was peace that was waaaayyyy past my understanding. I felt, almost literally, like I was walking two feet off the ground. It was a severe peace. Regardless of what happened next in our lives, God was in control, and I remained His servant.
That didn’t mean that I had complete understanding of why I was sent to this institution. Sure, I had down some good things for the institution. I had also added to my credentials. I had made some lifelong friends. However, my perceived reason for going was not accomplished. I had seemingly failed. And I would wrestle with the reason for going and the failure for months after leaving. Months later, I had the opportunity to help one of those friends I had gained as they walked out their own departure from the institution. As I did, I had confirmation of how God had used me there: His purpose…not mine.
And we’re back from the past. So I’ve pondered the descriptive I placed in front of peace: severe. Why did that come out of my mouth that way? I’ve used the words “incredible” and “awesome” and even “confirming” peace to describe the experiences of those days long ago. But “severe?” Never once before.
What does severe even mean, especially in this context?
Severe (adj.) of a great degree; maintaining a scrupulously exacting standard of behavior or self-discipline; establishing exacting standards of accuracy and integrity in intellectual processes.
So put Peace in those definitions and you get:
Peace of great degree
A scrupulously exacting standard of Peaceful behavior or self-disciplined Peace;
An exacting standard of accuracy of Peace and integrity in intellectual processes of Peace
God provided such overwhelming peace that was to the magnitude of His character. It was not flippant but exacting. It was aligned to His standard of perfection. Due to His omnipotence, it’s a level we can’t “handle” in and of ourselves.
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Susan asks Mr. Beaver if Aslan, a lion representing Christ, was “quite safe.” Mr. Beaver replied, “Safe?…Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
He’s not safe, but He’s good. He’s not just a little of His characteristics. . .He’s all in. The depth of His peace is beyond our level of fully understanding and expressing. He’s peace…severe peace. While we think of measuring things, God is without measure. When you put a God without measure’s characteristics on the line, you get HIS exacting standard of Peace at a level that is overwhelming to you and me.
This Severe Peace reminds me of the contemporary worship song Furious because it is not just a platitude about God. It’s a peace that isn’t restrained by my ability to perceive it. His limitless peace is connected to His limitless love.
Nothing can tear us from
The grip of His mighty love
We’ve only glimpsed, His vast affection
Heard whispers of, His heart and passion
It’s pouring down…
His love is deep, His love is wide
And it covers us
His love is fierce, His love is strong
It is furious
His love is sweet, His love is wild
And it’s waking hearts to life
The Father loves and sends His son
The Son lays down His life for all
He lavishes His love upon us
He calls us now, His sons and daughters
He’s reaching out…
…and its waking hearts to life
He is waking hearts to life
He is waking hearts to life
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7
His Severe Peace be with you today. . .