The Paradox of Palm Sunday:
The downward path to the abundant life
This year I chose to focus on this verse:
It came from a nagging feeling that God has a deeper, richer life for me than the one I am choosing to live right now. Not one out there, somewhere far away, but a life right here, in my mess and my laundry and my marriage and my parenting and my fatigue and my brokenness. Right here where I already am. So my prayers have been,
Lord show me the abundant life that you promise.
Show me why you came. Give me eyes to see and
Ears to hear and a heart to be willing to go where you need
to take me to experience the abundant life in you and you alone.
I need you to lead me and guide me and take me there.
It’s kind of a scary prayer. I know that the abundant life Jesus calls me to looks completely different than anything I could ask or imagine. And it’s scary to let go of everything that makes me comfortable, so that I don’t need God, so that I can be in a place where I need God. Or should I say, a place where I am aware of my desperate need for him each and every moment of the day.
I was rereading one of my favorite books of all time: In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. I first read it in college and it shaped and formed the way I think about life with Jesus. He talks about the path of downward mobility, a path so radically different than the path the world preaches.
I tell you the truth, when you were young,
you were able to do as you liked;
you dressed yourself and
went wherever you wanted to go.
But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands,
and others will dress you and
take you where you don't want to go.
The way of the Christian is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending at the cross. This might sound morbid and masochistic, but for those who have heard the voice of the first love and said yes to it, the downward-moving way of Jesus is the way to the joy and the peace of God, a joy and peace that is not of this world.
Powerlessness and humility do not refer to people who have no spine…They refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and find it more abundantly.
In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen
And here we are on Palm Sunday. A day full of paradox.
The creator of the universe riding on the back of a borrowed donkey.
The creator of life determinedly choosing to move toward his death.
It is only in his death that we find life.
It is only in our poverty that we discover the riches of God.
It is only in our uncomfort that we can truly rest in the comfort that only God provides.
It is only in allowing ourselves to be led where we do not want to go,
that we will end up in our true home..
It is so backwards, so foreign. I don’t get it. I don’t have to.
I just have to be willing to let go of my life so that He can
lead me into the abundant life He came to give.
I can’t stay where I am and move forward at the same time.
I can’t cling to my couch and move into his faith and trust and life at the same time.
This is my prayer for you and for me, that we would be willing to go where we do not want to go, so that we can experience the abundant life that he lived and died to give us.
Happy Palm Sunday, friends.