All week long, the Spirit has been whispering the same half of a verse, over and over again, to my soul: "Seek peace and pursue it." (Psalm 34:14b)
Seek peace and pursue it. Seek peace and pursue it.
I've been trying. In this week of Advent Peace, I've been pursuing peace as if it were the elusive White Stag of Narnia. Every now and again, I've glimpsed it. I've found it in some unlikely places: Christmas shopping, driving around in my car, cleaning the house, charting Christmas carols. I've found it in likely places, too: the quiet moments when I've paused to worship, decorating Christmas cookies with our Tuesday night Advent group, having dinner with one of my best friends. But then something would happen, and I would find myself wondering where that peace had gone.
Seek peace and pursue it.
I will not go into the details of why this week was so incredibly difficult. I will simply say that I am so glad for the respite that this morning brought. Saturday is my Sabbath day - a day to worship and rest and simply be. For the first time since last Saturday, I did not roll out of bed with a task list. There are things to do today - grocery shopping for the holiday dinner I'm cooking tomorrow, Christmas shopping, etc. - but they can happen whenever I get to them, and it doesn't really matter to anyone else. Today there are no pressures, no demands, no responsibilities. Today I am free to finish decorating my tree, and to be my introverted self. Today... I can rest.
I am so glad God built Sabbath into our lives. He knew how desperately we would need it. A day to stop. Breathe. Remember Him. Reorient. Reprioritize. Oh, wait - life isn't actually about all that stuff that seemed so important last week. It's about glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. Right. Okay, let's try that, then.
And again, I find myself so grateful for Advent, and a week that forced me, by its liturgical rhythms, to remember peace. I needed the daily reminder to be a shalom-bringer, and to look for the ways in which God was at work in the seeming chaos that was this week. I needed that constant whisper: "seek peace and pursue it."
One of the things I am learning (again) is that peace and rest go hand-in-hand. It is possible to be at peace in the midst of insanely busy seasons, to be internally at rest in the midst of complete craziness. I don't always live that way - and at the end of weeks like this past one, I am extremely grateful for mercy and grace and the promise of a new day! But if God tells us to seek peace and pursue it, it is because peace is something we need... and it is because peace is something that will be found for the seeking.
Our responsibility is not to "achieve" peace somehow - but to simply pursue it. And as we seek it, peace will come. For He himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), and it is His promise that if we seek Him, He will be found (1 Chronicles 28:9).
There is so much comfort and joy in that. So God rest ye merry, friends - as we, with Hope and Peace, lean into Joy this coming week.