“Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14 (NIV)
I have this verse blu-tacked to my bedroom wall in my little apartment in Amman, Jordan. It is placed by the light switch, directly next to my bedroom door, so I have to pass it every time I leave. I can’t walk out without it prompting me: what are you looking for today?
We find this verse in a psalm of the Old Testament that was written by David, whose life, it is fair to say, is a series of adventures. At the time of writing this song, David is afraid that a king called Achish sees him as a threat and wants to murder him, so David acts insane to avoid death (1 Samuel 21:10-15). David’s situation is daunting and volatile, and yet he chooses to write about “peace”. In the midst of a situation that is anything but peaceful, David is not only focussed on peace, but is choosing to actively pursue it.
Godly peace is not a reflection of everything external in your life looking perfectly put-together and organised, but is a reflection of the unchanging nature of a God that we can trust.
To break down a somewhat abstract concept, it is worth considering how we focus on peace, when everything around us – in the news, in our homes, maybe even within ourselves – feels rocky. The book of Isaiah says:
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
In other words, to fix our eyes and thoughts on peace is to fix our eyes and thoughts on Jesus. Whether we’re reading our Bible or going out with friends, when we listen to God and align the decisions we make with the life He has waiting for us allows us to always be aiming for a life centered on His peace. We often have absolutely no clue where those decisions are heading, but we do know one thing: that there is a God, and He is good.
For the entirety of summer when I was 16 years old, I simply couldn’t shake this little thought in my head that it would be so thrilling to study Arabic. I prayed and I read my Bible and the idea only got stronger, and, three years later, here I am on the second year of my Arabic degree in the city of Amman, where nothing happens as you would expect and you return from every outing with a new story. I could easily draw my motivation from the adrenaline and hype that I get from being here, but I know that this alone will not create a Jesus-centered life, and all the blessings that come with that. So every time I leave my room and step out into the noisy streets, I ask myself: what are you looking for today? And I set my eyes above the dust and the rush, and focus them on Jesus, the Prince of Peace.