Tree Climbers

“The fear of human opinion disables. Trusting God protects you from that.” Proverbs 29:25

Like a scared cat running from an enthusiastic dog…. He knew it might be his only chance.

His only opportunity. Not to get away, but to get a closer look.

He was desperate. He had heard about this life changer and his message of hope and something had started to shift deep down in his soul. Everything he believed to be true and right about his life had been turned upside down. The life of luxury and wealth he was living at the cost of others, the one that had never caused him to lose a wink of sleep – now kept him up at night. He was ready to make a change but he wanted, needed to make a direct connection with the voice behind the message that was spreading like wildfire. The words of life and truth. The words that offered grace for all his past mistakes and an invitation to live full and free. He just needed a glimpse of The One and word on the street was that he was very close by.

Except that the crowd was large in number and stature. And the man, the one with few friends due to his reputation of being a cheat and a fraud – was alone. And he was small.

Short – to be exact.

The people pushed all around him and he heard the voices announcing the Man’s arrival ….

But he just couldn’t see.

Oh how he wanted to see.

Really see.

Oh How I want to see…. really see.

An amazing thing happens when your hungry enough, curious enough, desperate enough…

Your willingness to do what you’ve never done before, or what others may look down on you for becomes a viable option.

All cares of lack of skill, education, or opinions of others fly right out the window……

And the tree you’ve walked by a million times now becomes the answer to your question….

How can I see Him? Really See Him?

Oh How I want to see…. really see.

“He wanted desperately to see Jesus but the crowd was in his way – he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.” Luke 19:3-4

It made perfect sense.

He was short.

The crowds were tall.

And … well, crowded

and the best way to get a clear view was to go up, get up, climb up

The nearest tree.

A sycamore tree.

“Because the branches of the sycamore-fig are strong and wide-spreading, and because it produces many lateral branches, it was an easy evergreen tree for Zaccheus to climb, and in which he could easily be hidden.”( Bible Gateway)

…… and in which he could easily be hidden.

Zaccheus, a tax collector, wanted to see Jesus but he did not necessarily want to be seen. He had so much to hide. So many layers of shame and guilt from his way of life. In the time when Jesus walked the earth, tax collectors were a hated lot. They were Jews that worked for the oppressive Roman government. They were seen as “turncoats” that used their position to take more than was required. They became wealthy off of their fellow Jews – using the extra they collected to support their lavish lifestyles. He wanted what Jesus had to offer but he guessed Jesus wouldn’t want to actually get close to him. He’d just climb the tree, snuggle in to the branches and watch Jesus share his love and message with more worthy recipients.

But Jesus wasn’t looking for the ones prettied up on the outside. The ones certain of their worth because of the clothes they wore, the good deeds they had done. The ones whose peace came from status and stature.

Jesus was looking for tree climbers.

The ones adjusting their lives to get a glimpse of him.

The ones throwing aside all care of tarnishing their reputation.

The ones with hearts open to the changes he would ask them to make.

The ones that when they felt the tug on their hearts that he was getting closer,

Climbed a tree to get a better look.

Oh how I want to be a tree climber, and see, really see.

But Goodness the crowds can feel thick.

The crowds we might call…

to do lists….

and opinions of others….

and world events out of my control…

and family members struggling…

and a business to maintain and grow…

The crowds that can distract, disappoint and discourage.

The ones that can block my view from the One who wants to guide me through it all.

The ones I need to bust through to get to the nearest tree, grab hold of its branches and hoist myself up to see the One that loves me most.

Jesus is looking for the tree climbers. He is so ready to welcome the tree climbers.

The ones tired and weary from the battle through the crowds. The ones hungry and open and ready.

“When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said ‘Zaccheus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.'” Luke 19:6

And just like that, Zaccheus life is changed forever. He has been noticed. He has been called by name. He has been invited in. No judgement. No list of boxes checked.

Just a man with enough faith to climb a tree and pray for a glimpse of his Savior.

An extension of abundant grace to a man that deserved nothing.

When grace floods our lives it cant help but rush towards those around us. When we receive abundantly we can give abundantly.

“So Zaccheus hurried and came down, and welcomed Jesus with JOY. He stopped and said to the Lord , “See Lord, I am now giving half of my possessions to the poor, and If I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will give back four times as much.” Luke 19:8

Oh how I want to be like our tree climber friend Zaccheus……

Convinced that I have nothing of worth to bring to my Savior except my open, eager, repentant heart.

Willing to fight through my crowds to hear his voice welcoming me in,

reminding me I am loved,

pointing me to a better tomorrow.

Much Love, justbeth

View from the Tree Tops – Lake Ozark, MO – glorious!