A few days ago I blogged about the nagging ministry of the Holy Spirit. Most of my readers call that nudging, and I agree—but the nagging I’m talking about is not a positive feeling. It’s the sense that something is off, missing, not right. It’s a “no” that draws me in to take a second and third and fourth look at what God is asking me to do, until something else replaces the angst.

That something else is peace. In Colossians 3:15 Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” A literal interpretation of “rule” here is “arbitrating,” or even “umpiring.” In other words, “Let God’s peace be a serious component in your discernment process,” might be a good paraphrase.

Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, which means peace is the natural state of a person walking in harmony with God in the moment. A lack of peace means either I’m not trusting God (which means I’m holding hands with fear) or I’m disobeying God (in which case the Holy Spirit within me is grieved and his angst is rubbing off on me).

On the other hand, in a world full of stress, trouble, problems, evil, sadness, selfishness, pride, and garbage, genuine peace is a signal that Someone not of this world is near. This is “the peace of  God, which transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) Transcends. Surpasses. Trumps. Confounds. Defies. All understanding.

It happened to me just yesterday.

I’ve spent part of every Christmas in my forty year life (even my married years) with my parents. I realize not everyone gets to experience that (or wants to) but for me, it’s been a real treasure. Unfortunately, this past week, I looked at the calendar and lined it up with my church responsibilities and realized our upcoming holiday window is narrower than it’s been in a long time. We usually travel two days to spend five or six days in Manitoba with family and friends, then turn around and drive two days back. This year, there are seven days in total to work with. Doable, but it would mean driving four days to enjoy three days out there. And it would mean I’d preach the morning after we got back. If the weather holds. Not a great situation.

I felt it in my gut: Oh man, we aren’t supposed to go this year.

So disappointing, and yet… I have a peace about it I can’t describe, explain, or justify. It… it… just transcends all this somehow. Huh.

So my advice? If you’re cruising through life and you don’t feel peace about something that should be a no-brainer, not so fast. Maybe it isn’t. And when you discover an irrational peace in places it shouldn’t exist, take note there too.

Jesus may be in the house.