Peace. It's a word (though not necessarily a concept) that is highly visible this time of year. We see it in lights of red, blue and green. It is neatly scrolled upon thousands of Christmas cards. It graces our carols in phrases like "Peace on earth, goodwill to men" and "Sleep in heavenly peace." But what is peace? The online dictionary gives a five-fold answer. Peace is. . .
1) a state of tranquility or quiet
2) freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions
3) harmony in personal relations
4) a state or period of mutual concord between governments or nations
5) used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell
I've been praying for peace a lot lately. Peace on earth would certainly be wonderful, but I'm afraid my motives have been more selfish. My prayers have been focused more on the first two definitions: tranquility and freedom from oppressive thoughts and emotions. Yes, it would seem that the most wonderful time of the year is not necessarily the most peaceful time of the year. With shopping and dinners and caroling and cantatas and the list goes on, who has time to be tranquil or quiet? And with the million things to do and places to be, whose mind isn't running around in circles?
In my Bible reading this morning, I came across a verse I've read a million times, but a particular phrase struck a chord in me and caused me to question, "How do you do that?" Psalm 34:14 says,
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
Depart from evil. - That's pretty self-explanatory. Run away from bad things. Don't do evil.
Do good. - Again, no real explanation needed here.
Seek peace. - Yes, I get that. In fact, that's what I've been doing. I've been praying for peace in my heart and seeking to find peace in the midst of the holiday craziness (as well as all the other craziness life throws our way.)
Pursue it. - Say what now? Pursue peace? What does that mean? How do you chase after something that has no physical form?
That, my friends, is the question I pose to you today. (I know, you thought I was going to tell you the answer, but I'm not going to make it that easy.) I want you to meditate on this thought today and leave a comment when you have an answer. What does it mean to you to pursue peace? I can't wait to hear what you have to say. And remember, your answer may be a help and encouragement to someone else, so please take a moment to give us your thoughts.