Palm Sunday Panic
On Palm Sunday, I woke up early, and my first conscious thought was one of dread, almost panic. I felt as though I was back in college facing a major exam for which I was not prepared. But I had no idea why.
I made coffee and collected my One Year Bible, my journal, and a protein bar. After an hour or so of studying, writing, and praying, I got ready for church. But the ache in my soul did not go away. Driving to church, I couldn’t shake it this anguish, try as I might.
My mind in a terrible swirl, I hardly noticed the Palm Sunday service. My heart was racing. I felt as though I had shoplifted merchandise from a jewelry store and was waiting to be arrested, or as though I was sitting in a first-class seat on an airplane with a coach ticket in the seatback pocket, waiting for the flight attendant to ask for my boarding pass. Maybe you’ve had this feeling.
After church I went straight home. Without stopping to change out of my Sunday clothes, I loosened my tie and went straight to the Throne. I opened my Bible to the twenty-first chapter of John’s gospel: “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’” (21:15)
In what may have been history’s first recorded “Come to Jesus” meeting, the Lord was having a seaside chat with Peter, their first meeting since Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, and Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. Looking directly into the face of the most outspoken of the disciples, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”
Without warning, those words shed light on the paralyzing emotions I had been experiencing since first opening my eyes that morning. For several weeks, my heart had been swept up in my love for Nancy, which was right and good. But had I allowed this love to eclipse my love for Jesus? What if Jesus were to ask me, “Do you love Me more than Nancy?”
“No,” I said aloud. “No, I don’t love You more.”
In the wake of the most harrowing months of my life, I had carelessly allowed my emotions to get the best of me. And in doing this, I was sinning. That day, I did not try to fine-tune my thinking. I did not resolve to do my best to put the Lord back in His rightful place in my heart. No, I confessed my skewed priorities as sin and repented. “Forgive me,” I prayed through tears. “I want to love You more. I do love You more. This is Your rightful place.”
In my journal I wrote, “Nancy does not belong on the throne of my life. This is raising expectations far beyond her ability to meet my needs. If I put her where she doesn’t belong, she will fail.” Then I heard Christ’s “still, small voice” as clearly as if I had been sitting with him on the shore like Peter: “Feed my lamb.”
Jesus was nudging me with a powerful truth. It was as though He was saying to me, “Listen, Robert. Once you have your affections lined up properly and love me more than anything or anyone, then (and only then) will you be capable of meeting Nancy’s needs.”
Loving Jesus More
Christ is asking you the same question He asked Peter on the seashore—“Do you love Me more than anyone? Or anything?” And you’ve got to be able to answer as Peter did—“Yes, Lord, I love You more than anyone. Or anything.” But how do you know if that answer is true?
At the risk of telling you what you already know, I’ll say that you must begin your day with your Shepherd.
Picture yourself in a packed sheepfold at dawn. A naturally light sleeper, you hear the Shepherd’s footsteps as He approaches the gate. You perk up your ears and lift your head. Is this your Shepherd? Pushing through your sleepiness, you crawl to your feet and make your way toward Him. The closer you get, the more clearly you see His face. His radiant countenance pierces and dispels the darkness. When you reach Him, He picks you up and carries you to a special place not far from the gate. Your heart races with joy. This is going to be a precious time—just you and your very own Shepherd.
You can actually start every day like that with your Shepherd. Read His Word and meditate on it, write down your thoughts, and finish your time with Him on your knees, thanking Him for His love, His mercy and grace, and then presenting to Him your needs for the day.
But can’t this become routine—even boring? Well yes, it can. But so does stepping into the shower or sitting down to a meal. And even though it’s the same Bible and the same words you’ve read before, God can take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. He turns routine into euphoria.
Excerpted from Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage with Love and Grace by Robert Wolgemuth. ©2017 by Robert Wolgemuth. Published by Regnery Faith, www.regnery.com. Used with permission.
Robert Wolgemuth is a public speaker and best-selling author of over 20 books, including five Silver Medallion Award winners. A consultant for national organizations including DreamWorks and Focus on the Family, Wolgemuth is considered an expert on family values, effective communication, leadership, listening skills, and relationship-building. He’s a 1969 graduate of Taylor University and a recipient of an honorary doctorate (LHD) from the same university in 2005. Wolgemuth is the father of two grown daughters, two sons-in-laws, and five grandchildren. After almost 45 years of marriage, he was widowed in 2014. He is now remarried to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/ijeab
Publication date: April 6, 2017