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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:22-24
[Jesus says,] “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
- The weather
- My neighbor’s dog
- The Stock Market
- My readers
- Other’s feelings and thoughts
All these things I cannot control. You might be able to add a number of other things to that list. But as I reflected on Jesus’ words in John 14, I was challenged to think differently about at least one thing that might have been put on the list: my heart’s worry – or even its joy. Unless this is one of those reminders of our inability to keep perfectly the laws and commands of God.
It seems, however, not to be the case. Jesus, here, is seeking to comfort his disciples. He’s not laying down laws and commands at this point. He will do that, as he gives the new commandment: Love one another. But here, he is preparing his disciples for his death. He is assuring them of their place in the Father’s house. He is telling them of his plans to go and prepare a place for them. He is promising that they will be with him forever.
So these words, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” are an invitation. An encouragement. A call to courage. A reminder of true hope. An invitation to peace.
I’ve struggled recently with worry. The reasons are not important. In fact they have no eternal weight at all. Either they will simply dissolve over time, or they will be resolved justly. Even so, I worry. That means I am not experiencing the peace which is the fruit of the Spirit. And to some extent I have been captive to the idea that I cannot stop. I have no control.
And therein lies the solution: giving up the illusion of control, and giving it all to God. Or, it may be taking control of those things I can, and making decisions that need to be made. A phone call to set a thorny financial issue to rest. A decision that simply needs to be made. A plan that needs to be settled. It can be as simple as that.
And where I have no control, letting go of the illusion that I should be able to. Praying the serenity prayer for real:
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
O Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me, and grant me the fruit of your presence: peace!