Peace Over Me

I love John Crist’s comedy. Aaron Chewning along with him? Gold. But with every good thing that people engage, there is always a danger that we abuse a good thing and turn it laboriously bad. I’ve seen an interview with John where he shared his heart and why he makes the comedy he makes. He bears no ill will toward the church. In fact, he loves the church. It is out of that love and intimate knowledge that he is fully acquainted with some of the funniest eccentricities within the Christian culture. See his mall walking, scripture quoting church lady video, or the pastor’s post service press conference. He’s really funny.

In the above video, he and Aaron outline a few recurring thematic elements in popular Christian music. Storms… oceans… vague struggles…

I would be lying if I did not at one point or another devise an entire service whose music had us out in the middle of the ocean surrounded by storms… and struggling.

Damien… it’s comedy, don’t look that hard into it.

I know… I KNOW. But there are some people out there who are so bothered by the emotional pull of a relational God into His presence and glorious eminence juxtaposed in His transcendence that they need to be bitterly calculating about any faults whatsoever. Analysis makes us cold to the world around us, and helps us to detach. There are so many people, especially men, I’m finding, who are having an immensely difficult time opening up to the emotional vulnerability to God who created us to have a relationship with Him that ultimately lifts His name high and our hearts into greater joy.

So with respect and affection due to Mr Crist and Mr Chewning, I must ask that we stop dogging on storms, oceans, and struggles in our music. We are at risk of creating the silliest denomination in existence: the Johncristians.

The sure-fire way I know a song is going to be worship fire is when my wife recommends it to me and I don’t get it. I will be in the middle of a school assignment, or covered in sweat and sawdust, or trying so very hard to just keep my eyes open and “hey, listen to this. It’s amazing!” I try and hear nothing.

It is through that method that I have first heard “Do it again” and “what a beautiful name.”

It is also the way I heard Lauren Daigle sing, “Peace Be Still.”

I tried to listen and just didn’t hear anything except John Crist cackling at the storms and oceans. And the struggles.

Maybe the reason we have so many storms occupy our worship music is because there are few things we universally fear more than storms as children. Raising children for five years in Hawaii, thunder was rare. In Texas, however, we had the full thunderstorm experience happen for us within the first two weeks. The sky darkens in defiance of the sun. The wind bends mighty trees to the side and hushes us with it’s constant voice; a quiet warning of the approaching event. The rain kicks up a beautiful smell and then limits our visibility. With our vision so reduced, unable to hear or see, suddenly both senses are overwhelmed with a flash of light and angry percussion in the deep voice of the earth and sky.

The ocean is powerful. Try to stand at the very edge of its boundaries, the place where it is most shallow; where it is weakest. Try to be in that place and resist its power. On the top of the ocean, we are powerless but to try to harness the wind and survive the spontaneous mountains and valleys that travel across its surface. Below, in a world to which we will always be undocumented visitors, the depths extend beyond our ability to imagine, the fear as crushing as the pressure below.

What’s more, combine the two and you find the scariest place on Earth. On the ocean, in the storm, we are out of control, powerless, and small.

And it is in those places that Jesus performed elementally important miracles. He called out to Peter to walk on top of the water. He calmed the storm with the power of the same voice that created those elements.

The most difficult part of our hardships is not in the struggle. The struggle makes us stronger and makes for really good story telling. It’s the fear that comes with the hardship. There’s not a single sailor who while enjoying perfect wind and seas has cried out to God for a miraculous deliverance from the elements. He has them.

It is when we are putting our strength to the test and we see the cost of being overwhelmed and failing that fear grows dark like the advance of a thunderhead. The antonym of “fear” might be courage, but its true opposite will most definitely be “peace.”

I don’t want to be afraid
‘Cause these waves are only waves [1]

Peace takes what is our fear and contextualizes it. It makes difficulties small. But storms will always scare me. And the ocean will always convince me that I am small. I need songs like this like I need the stories of Jesus’s power over them to know that everything is under the authority of the One. I truly have reasons to fear and I truly have reasons to surrender to fear and give up.

But if my fears make me feel small and peace makes my fears small, I need the source of peace to be large enough to make that entire equation work. Peace cannot come from my bride, my children, my accomplishments, or false hope. Peace cannot be delivered by a convincing preacher or enigmatic politician. Peace must source from One and One only.

I don’t want to be afriad
Everytime I face the waves
I don’t want to be afraid
I don’t want to be afraid
I don’t want to fear the storm
Just because I hear it roar
I don’t want to fear the storm
I don’t want to fear the storm

Peace be still
Say the word and I will
Set my feet upon the sea
Till I’m dancing in the deep
Peace be still
You are here so it is well
Even when my eyes can’t see
I will trust the voice that speaks
Peace, Peace over me

I’m not gonna be afraid
‘Cause these waves are only waves
I’m not gonna be afraid
I’m not gonna be afraid
I’m not gonna fear the storm
You are greater than its roar
I’m not gonna fear the storm
I’m not gonna fear at all

Let faith rise up, oh heart believe
Let faith rise up in me.  [2]


  1. Andrew Holt, Hope Darst, and Mia Fieldes, “Peace Be Still,” All the Earth. The Belonging Company. CCLI# 7084363
  2. Ibid.

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