Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps. ~ Psalm 85:13
A few years ago I was in a meeting that was dealing with some pretty stressful issues. Sides were being chosen. Lines were being drawn in the sand. Peace was nowhere to be seen. Some of the participants, it seemed to me, actually wanted to see the meeting become more contentious than it already was. Or at least that’s what their actions and their words implied.
At some point, even as the tone was continuing to deteriorate, a person in the room who had not spoken before suddenly began to talk. His tone was gentle. His words were loving. He leveled no accusations and threw no rhetorical bombs. In every sense of the word he spoke peace. Soon the atmosphere in the room changed. The bile that seemed to hang in the air slowly dissipated. We began to be drawn to this man and his proposal. Peace replaced contention.
Peace is not a word that I would use to describe life in 21st century America. The past few weeks have illustrated that fact in vivid detail. Shootings in churches. Fights over flags. Fear and dissention over the implications of a Supreme Court ruling. We do not live in a time of peace in our country.
Some of us can say the same thing about our personal lives. Being human means that we live with stress and anxiety. Money problems. Relationship fears. Emotional or physical violence. Betrayal of a spouse. The hurtful words of a friend. Peace in our lives can be that thing that we have heard about but never really experience.
And then comes the cry of the Psalmist in the 85th Psalm that really is our own cry: “Let me hear what God the LORD will speak.” What do you have to say to us God? What is it that you want us to know or do? Speak to us God. Speak to me. What will you say?
And then the answer comes: Peace. That’s what God speaks. Peace. Just as the voice of the man in my meeting, the voice of God speaks peace.
When we hear the voice of God something amazing happens. The Psalmist says that glory will dwell in our land, that steadfast love and faithfulness will meet, that righteousness and peace will kiss each other!
But we have to listen. We have to turn our hearts toward God. But when we do, we will find a God who loves us and cares for us and believes in us and wants the best for us. Life will still be crazy. There will still be stress and anxiety. There will still be fear and divisions. But the atmosphere in the room will change.
And maybe – just maybe, we will find ourselves being the one who speaks peace. Maybe we become the one who calms instead of riles up. Maybe we become the hands and feet of God in spreading and working for peace.
Turning our hearts toward God and allowing God to speak peace is a daily (sometimes hourly!) requirement. But when we do, everything changes.