We have a phrase at our house. Follow the Peace. We have tried to teach it to our kids, even while we ourselves have attempted to follow our own advice. Whenever there is a major decision to make, follow the peace. New job? Follow the peace. New home? Follow the peace. New career? Follow the peace.
It works. I think because it forces us to slow down and take note of what we are feeling, we have learned what NOT having peace feels like. We know that confusion, fear, anger, disappointment are not from God. Jumping and making a quick decision usually results in heartache because we are doing it with some motive other than peace. Who do we follow? The Prince of Peace. So, it is best not to move until we can follow the peace he brings wherever he goes. Otherwise, we are off the path. This isn’t just for major decisions, it is for everyday life as well.
In John 10 it says, “the shepherd opens the gate for his sheep and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls them by name and leads them. He goes ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger, in fact they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
The key to this verse is knowing the voice of the shepherd, intimately. Like studying a real bill to recognize a counterfeit, it is important to listen to his voice so I can recognize anything that is NOT his voice.
Think of someone you know very well. I think of Bill, my husband. If Bill sent me a text calling me a derogatory name, I would know it wasn’t from him even though it might have come from his number. How do I know this? I have lived with him every single day for 35 years. Except for when his head was busted open after his accident, he has never been a name caller. Even in the heat of an argument he doesn’t call me names. If anyone told me he had called me a name, I would know immediately they were lying to me…because I know Bill intimately. It is not like him. It is not something he does. I KNOW this, beyond what I read, or what I hear, or what someone says. I KNOW.
The same goes for the verse in John. The sheep KNOW the shepherd’s voice. They also KNOW what is not his voice. Follow the peace. Peace is his voice.
Right now, in our world, I find myself going down rabbit trails where there is no peace. Confusion. Depression. Fear. Division. Hatred. Accusation. Self-righteousness. Superiority. Anxiety. Stress. Peace is getting harder and harder to find.
It occurs to me, whenever I can’t find peace, I should check who I am following. Now that it is so easy to “follow” others, it is also easy to see what voices I am listening to. Voices of strangers. Voices who do not lead me on the path of peace. Voices who add to the blanket of heaviness. Voices who cause anxiety to rise and depression to sink deeper. I need to “unfollow” those voices. Seek peace with each one and if I cannot find it…run away from them. They are strangers…sometimes disguised as “friends”.
Once I have “unfollowed” voices other than the voice of Peace, I must also check my own voice. Ouch! This is the hardest part. What is coming out of my mouth and off the tips of my fingers? Is it peace? Am I mirroring my shepherd or am I the voice of a stranger? Do my words uplift and bring peace? Or am I accusing and blaming? Am I creating unity or bringing division? Am I a part of the solution or the problem? Yikes!
It seems I need to “unfollow” myself. I need to remember where peace comes from. I need to humble myself, look honestly at my heart, and…follow the peace…back to the shepherd who also happens to be the Prince of Peace.