During this year’s summer vacation it became more apparent than ever that I had turned a corner. And honestly, it’s one I never thought I would see. Ever since the start of junior high cross country conditioning in August of 1994 I have been a runner. That means for every overnight trip I have ever taken during the last 26 years, my running shoes have gone with me without fail. My husband of 16 years will vouch that running has been part of my agenda on every trip we’ve taken! (This also means that for 16 years he has been annoyed by the way I tie my shoes to the strap of my duffel bag.)
So imagine my surprise on the first morning of vacation when my husband asked if I was going for a run and I responded by saying, “Oh. No. I hadn’t even thought of that.” The idea of a morning run had legitimately not crossed my mind. But you know what did? Silence. Coffee. Reading a devotional. Over the last several months this has become the desire of my early morning heart.
At first I thought this shift seemed strange, but it occurs to me now that the end result of both activities is the same- peace that comes from communion with God.
In those quiet morning hours there is a calmness that is unlike any other part of the day; for whether I’m running the familiar roads of my hometown or reading at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee, my attention is turned to the things of God. Peace ensues.
Like many things in life, peace does not magically appear out of thin air. Nor is it only experienced in the absence of trials, or limited to those glorious early morning hours. How is it then that tranquility and freedom from disturbance is achieved? After all, that’s the million dollar question, right? Everyone wants to know how to have peace.
Thankfully, Psalm 34:14 provides some great direction. The Psalmist writes, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” I love that peace is hidden there amongst the verbs: seek and pursue. These are action words. And in them we have an open invitation to peace.
When I think about seeking and pursuing, my mind is drawn to intentionality and diligence. This was certainly true in my life as an athlete. Whenever I was going after a goal, my focus was singular. Every choice I made was made in light of that one pursuit.
Imagine how our lives would be different if we sought peace with intentionality! Only, first we need to be clear about the ultimate source of the peace we are to pursue. Romans 8:6 states, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
The Spirit of God. This is Who we are to actively seek if we desire true peace. We are to pursue the Spirit.
So what does this look like? How is this theological principle displayed in a practical sense? Let’s look at 3 powerful avenues: prayer, worship, and the Word.
Prayer. This is simply a time to talk to God- to praise and thank Him for His goodness and love, to surrender burdens, to bring forth repentance, and to present requests. Although I have designated certain times of day to prayer (while my head is still on my pillow in the morning, for instance), I love that prayer can happen any time, anywhere. God always hears us and He delights in the prayers of His children. No prayer is ever wasted, no matter the length.
So how do we seek the Spirit through prayer? I’ve found the easiest way is to simply ask. Lately, I’ve been praying for the Spirit to fill me with wisdom and discernment. God’s Spirit provides counsel and guidance, and I pray for this in increasing measure. I also pray for the Spirit to fill me with passion for God’s Truth, which is His very Word. When we ask God to fill us with more of His Spirit, He certainly will! I strongly encourage you to pursue the Spirit in this way as you pray.
Worship. Anything we give as an offering to God is worship, and this can look like many things! We can offer our abilities, talents, and money as worship. Worship also looks like the intentional offering of our affections and adoration. For me, this often takes the form of music that is focused on the character and promises of God. Engaging my heart and mind through praise fills me with peace given by the Spirit. Consider how incorporating worship into your daily routine might also increase your desire for the Spirit- and in turn, fill you with peace.
The Word. Psalm 119:160 says, “The entirety of your Word is Truth.” Consider also the words of Hebrews 4:12: “The Word of God is living and active.” The Spirit continuously moves through the pages of the Bible as we read, teaching and convicting. This is why reading the Bible is a constant source of refreshment and edification! I have also found the more I know God’s truth, the more my love for Him increases (which in turns leads my heart to worship). As you read the Word, pray for the Spirit to reveal to you the truth of Scripture so that you can know more of Him.
This is the foundation of life and peace- a mind governed by the Spirit. Although God generously bestows His Spirit upon us and freely gives us peace, we are also invited to seek and pursue. Let us intentionally and diligently seek the Spirit through prayer, worship, and the Word.
Reflection Questions: 1) What are you seeking and pursuing right now? 2) What has been the result of this pursuit? 3) How might your life be different if you intentionally pursued peace through the Spirit?
*Part II will focus on pursuing peace through the Spirit in our relationships…stay tuned!