“. . . threw their arms around Paul's neck . . ." Acts 20:37
Paul, convinced his past was secure, his present made sense and the future was sure, placed himself and the church in God’s hands. Paul's parting from them would be final. He was giving them a gospel goodbye. The spirit of his parting was to say to his friends, don't worry.
Don't worry. Don’t be anxious and troubled. Don’t let that feeling of being rushed, panicked, or driven by fear, gain on you. In the days in which we live, worry is a common emotion and fatal to living well and doing good things.
Don’t fret. It sounds like a phrase that belongs on a Christian coffee cup – so commonplace, so shallow. It seems unworthy to be among the great theological thoughts. And yet, “don’t worry” goes deep into the fabric of our faith, if we only had the ability to respond to the call to live without worry.
It’s no accident the psalmist opens with the command to fret not. Fretting is a frightful thing. It drains us of the ability to live faithfully for God. Fretting over small things causes as much damage as major anxiety. It disrupts our spirit and clouds our judgment.
The opposite of worry is peace. Think of how much emphasis the Bible places on peace. We hear it proclaimed in the birth announcement of Jesus. The angel shouts “glory to God in the highest and peace on earth.” It comes in Jesus’ closing remarks before His death, “my peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” It was the very first greeting He gives to His disciples after His resurrection, “peace to you.” Then, just to make sure the disciples didn’t miss the point, “and again He said peace to you.”
Considering all of the gifts Jesus gives to us as the conqueror over sin, death, and the grave, He gives peace. Peace is the focus of the apostle’s writings, “the God of hope fill you with joy and peace.” Peace is the present, daily work of God, “now may the God of peace grant you peace in every circumstance.”
It’s worth making every effort to respond to the call of the psalmist to take away the worry and fret out of our lives and live more continually and confidently in the shelter and strength of the “peace which passes all understanding.”
Worry or peace, the choice is yours.