Peace and the Call of God

John Ortberg raises the question of whether or not “having peace” about an open door is a proper criterion for determining God’s call (All the Places You Will Go, pp. 137-138). He argues that “having peace” about the calling of God is not the usual pattern. In fact, and I think he is right, that not having peace is often an excuse for capitulating to unbelief and fear, resulting in disobedience. If we think about the calling of Moses, Gideon, Barak, Jonah, Jeremiah and a host of others, that would be correct.

The question is, does that mean the usual pattern is the one we should emulate, or is the pattern of Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah and Jesus the one we should follow. While we might argue about the nature of the struggle Jesus had in the Garden of Gethsemane, the whole tenor of His earthly ministry was desiring to do but one thing, namely to do the will of His Father in Heaven, and it was His joy to do just that. Indeed, Jesus not only experienced joy and peace in the doing of His Father’s will, but told His disciples that His peace should characterize their lives as they followed Him (John 14:27; 16:33).

Often in discussions of God’s will, Philippians 4:6-7 and Colossians 3:15 are cited inaccurately. Context in both passages speaks to God’s mind on how believers should relate to one another. God wants believers living in peace with one another. But is there a better passage to which one might appeal to make a case that there is a peace of God which ought to characterize a calling of God?

God spoke to Joshua shortly before he was to lead Israel in the conquest of Canaan, and said to him:

“Have not I commanded you? Be strong and very courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged; for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV84

May I submit that when we fear and are terrified by God’s calling, it reflects a lacking in our knowledge of the God who calls us? It may be the usual response to an open door, but it is the wrong response. Isaiah “saw the LORD seated on a throne, high and exalted…,” and once cleansed of His sinfulness, heard God’s invitation “Whom shall I send?” and he eagerly responded, “Here am I. Send me!” If our hearts are right with God, “having peace,” the kind that comes from God, ought to be the rule not the exception to the rule.

Too often, I have trembled when I should have experienced the peace that comes from knowing,

“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 NIV84

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Ed has had over 30 years of ministry experience, sixteen of them at Greenwoods Community Church in the southern Berkshires of Massachusetts. More recently he has fulfilled an extended transitional interim assignment for the Alliance Southeast of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Leesburg, Florida. In addition, Ed has had nearly 13 years of experience in the field of geriatric healthcare. Ed’s is happily married to Lynn, having recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Lynn is a true partner in ministry, having served Greenwoods Community Church as its Children's Ministry Coordinator for over ten years. She is a decorator, colorist, instructor in furniture painting, and an artist in her own right. For over 20 years she had her own business, Whimsical Brushes, teaching and traveling throughout the Northeast. Lynn is also active as a women’s outreach speaker for Stonecroft Ministries in Florida. God has given Ed a burden to be a mentor pastor, developing leaders for the church in the 21st Century. One way in which he is fulfilling that calling is through Rockbridge Seminary, where he serves as an adjunct professor of Spiritual Formation. Ed has earned degrees from Cairn University (B.S. 1971), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M. 1979), and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min. 2007). He has published several articles on the Spiritual Heritage of Litchfield County, Connecticut, and led several tours of sites associated with the Village Revivals that spawned the Second Great Awakening in New England. In his spare time, you are likely to find Ed at the piano or pecking out a blog on his blog page

2 thoughts on “Peace and the Call of God”

  1. Thank you Dr. E! I have been struggling with this very thing as I consider the call to full-time pastoral ministry. Specifically, I have been torn thinking about what God has helped us establish so far and wondering if I was to abandon it to answer this call. During my quiet time this morning, God’s Spirit impressed on me that this is a ‘yes and’ call, not an either/or. That revelation, along with your thoughts shared here has allowed me to know His peace in a deeper way. I look forward to what He has in store for us and am confident now that if the position is offered to me, I will accept.


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