Two weeks ago I was meeting with a prayer client. She had been meeting with me for some sessions and was in the midst of facing some hard decisions. As we came before the Lord inquiring of His thoughts it occurred to her that her trouble was that she has been trying to understand every part of what she was facing.
The Lord revealed that the problem was that she wanted to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how to go forward; she was looking for a surety within her own mind and understanding.
The Holy Spirit brought to her mind this verse:
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 ESV
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NASB
“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.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
Notice the slightly different ways the verse is translated:
ESV says, “which surpasses all understanding”
NASB says, “which surpasses all comprehension”
NLT says, “which exceeds anything we can understand”
The Holy Spirit revealed to her that to follow the peace of Christ would in fact take her places, good places, that her own understanding would not go. It was a moment of revelation for her and in response she quickly and easily put down at the cross her own understanding. She realized the sin of following her own understanding.
When we are faced with difficult decisions and complicated situations it is easy to toss all possible options around and around in our hearts and minds. As we contemplate this idea and that solution, this option and that criteria, we can easily lose sleep at such times. The stress of trying to make a ‘good’ decision can make for bad days and may even ruin our health over the long term.
Yet God is pretty clear that as we bring our concerns and worries to him that he will guide us with His peace. The verse prior reads:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 ESV
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 NLT
We know that life is not simple. There are complicated situations that are beyond our best thinking and understanding. Sometimes in fact, we are faced with hard decisions that may seem wrong but turn out to be right. It is especially at these times that we must pay close attention to the Lord and to his peace.
I’ve come to see that God guides us with his peace. We may be uncertain about something but God’s peace enters in and we risk to go forward in Him. Or, we may be uncertain about something and God’s peace is not found and so we risk to hold back.
God’s peace does indeed surpass our understanding. The peace of God is powerful and by it we are kept by the Lord in a way that doesn’t always make sense to us, a way that ‘surpasses our comprehension and that exceeds anything we can understand’.
My prayer client realized that she had been trying to do life according to her own understanding. She was trying to make the best decision, the right decision, but all in all, after many months of trying to get it ‘right’ she was frazzled and worn and worried and no closer to a solution or answer than she had been before.
One of the things she gave over to Jesus that day was her need to understand.
Instead of trying to understand, she committed herself to paying attention to the Lord and where his peace was for her; as she looked at difficult options to a complicated situation she came to see that only the peace of the Lord could truly guide her. And she caught a glimpse that the peace of God could lead her to good results that her own understanding is unable to produce.
She saw in fact, that her own understanding of right and wrong and of good and bad had been getting in the way of her walking in the peace of Christ. She had been doing what many Christians do, she was following the god of good and bad and right and wrong, rather than the God of peace that surpasses understanding.
Perhaps we are forgetting what the writer of Proverbs tells us:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
We must come to realize that our understanding is faulty. We cannot figure it all out. There are pieces to every situation that are not ours to know. Only God sees all the sides and parts and pieces of circumstances, of relationships, of ministry, of our futures, and of our lives.
It is good therefore to learn complete dependance on the Spirit of the Lord for wisdom and ways forward with whatever we may be facing.
And it is as we do this, that true understanding can be ours. Waiting on the Lord, turning away from our own understanding and turning towards Him brings us to wisdoms that would not normally be ours.
“Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:2-5
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130
I don’t know what situations or decisions you are facing today, but I suggest that you wait on the Lord for his understanding. Learn to hold back, do not act on your understanding, rather, wait on the Lord, see what he has to say and pay attention to his peace.
How is he leading you? What are you sensing from him?
The peace of the Lord does surpass our understanding. The Lord often leads us in ways that may not make sense to us, but if there is the peace of Christ leading you then you best follow.
Coming into His peace we find ourselves surrendering to the Lord our own best understanding. We come out of agreement with what makes sense to us (in our own best thinking) and we come into agreement with the leading and direction of the Lord.
Give him this. Give him your understanding. Then invite God to lead you and to guide you with his peace.
“God I come today in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Father, I have been counting on my own ability to understand and to make sense of things. But I see today that this habit of mine, this central focus on my own thinking, may in fact be keeping me from you, from your leading and from your peace.
Today I say ‘No more!’ to my own best understanding and I ask that you enter me into your wisdom and your peace upon my life. Show me the way you would have me go. Enter me into your understanding, teach me, guide me. Thank you that you desire us to live in your peace, thank you for your understanding. Amen.”
There are many strengths that we like to rely on in this world. But knowing God, understanding him, following his direction, having his peace, are the best kinds of strengths we might have. God will not fail us as we look to him for direction put aside our own best ideas and take on his understanding.
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me…” Jeremiah 9:23-24a