Hello, Psalm 34:14. You keep popping up, and I know why. Oh, yes I do.
“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”
When I first read this verse the other day, it made sense, of course, in a general sort of way. Everyone can agree that the principle of doing good and seeking peace is beneficial to the whole planet, right? No more wars! No poverty! Everyone would recycle and volunteer at soup kitchens and reduce their carbon footprint, right? It’s easy to see how to apply this verse in a large, general sense.
But then I read it again.
Accidentally actually, because I read the wrong chapter in my daily reading the first day. But there are no accidents, are there? When I read it the second time, something jumped out at me. I was thinking, I’m a pretty peaceful person… I don’t look for drama or conflict. If I DO have an issue, I honestly do want it to be resolved. So, yay. Check that one off the list.
If the Holy Spirit gives meaningful coughs, well it certainly did in that moment.
You love peace, WonderGirl? Well, what about that one situation? That one person that you don’t quite think kindly of? That one bump in an otherwise peaceful existence?
But I do hope that it will get better, I reply quickly. I want peace!
And then the hard truth, from that gentle voice: the verse doesn’t say, “want peace.” It says, “pursue peace.”
Ouch. I am not pursuing a thing. I’ve been sitting here, waiting for peace to find me.
Pursue. That’s an action verb, all right. To strive to gain; seek to attain or accomplish, to follow close upon; go with; to carry on or continue
You pursue something that is escaping you. You follow it. You go where it goes, never stopping. You track it. You chase it. You work, you sweat, you put in miles when you are pursuing something. You don’t give up, till that something is firmly in your hands.
Well, that’s the way we should be about peace. We must relentlessly seek out peace where it is hiding. Over hills. Long distances. Rough terrain. When we’re tired, when we’re hurt, when we’re hungry. When peace doesn’t want to be found. There is no stopping, for any reason.
Often, that means humbling ourselves. Not just praying for this person to wise up, so we can get on to the business of forgiving them (or convincing them to forgive us!) and having peace between us. This sometimes means saying, yes, there is hurt here, but I’m going to love you and come after you anyway, because you are worth it! Peace outweighs my pride… unity above hurt feelings and unmet needs and failed expectations.
Because Christ didn’t give up in His pursuit of me, we must not give up in our pursuit of peace with each other. Even when that person isn’t even looking back.
Because all it takes is one moment for them to pause, one glance behind their shoulder, to see you right behind them. One moment to see that you followed them, all this way, because you desire fellowship and restoration with them. One moment to see Christ’s love that has compelled you to pursue, even as they ran away.
Isn’t that worth it?
But if you stay, and you wait, then they never see you behind them. You are so far back, and the way home is so terribly long. Peace is so far away that they may simply choose to trudge on the way they were going. God forbid that happen because you would not hear the truth of Psalm 34:14.
So, pursue it. Go after it. This will mean, you pick up a phone, you drop your walls. You do what you don’t want to do, whatever that is. And you know what it is, right? That thing you’re thinking RIGHT THIS MINUTE. That’s what pursuing peace means for you. Write a letter, get a cup of coffee, whatever. You trust again, give again. You stop talking negatively, stop nursing your wounds. Stop waiting on peace to come to you.
Because the truth is, if peace has to come to you, then you are the one running.