For this Saturday’s and next Saturday’s devotion (because on Wednesday’s we have special Lent devotions), I want to look at Zacchaeus, who is probably the most famous tree climber in all of history. If you’re not familiar with his story open your Bibles and read Luke 19:1-10.
My question to you today is this: why don’t we climb trees anymore? I know, a lot of us would say that you’re too old for that. Yet, some of the most famous leaders found in the Bible were well into the second halves of their lives. I’m getting older, but I’m pretty sure that I could still get myself up in a tree if I wanted, but I don’t anymore. That’s a shame because when I was young, I was a real tree climber and I loved it.
Me and my friends spent many summer hours up in the trees, letting the wind gently rock us back and forth. When I was up there, I did some of my best thinking and dreaming. It was while up in a tree that I made a decision of what I was going to do with my life: I was going to be the first three sport professional athlete: football, baseball and basketball. Up in that tree I began thinking about the logistics of playing sports that overlapped and solved that problem by deciding I’d have to buy myself a helicopter. Up in a tree I made the decision of who I was going to marry. I decided it would be Marcia Brady.
It was up in a tree that I first remember realizing that the world was a lot bigger than I thought. Climbing high, I was able to see beyond my driveway, which doubled as our basketball court, and beyond my backyard which was our baseball and football field. Climbing higher, I could see beyond the school I attended which at that point in my life was pretty much the end of the world to me. I could see that beyond my “end” there was life going on. The world was bigger than I thought.
It was up in a tree looking at the horizon that I began to see how big God was. I learned in Sunday School that God made everything, and up in that tree there I saw that there was a whole lot of everything. He really was a big God!
And up there in that tree, I’m pretty sure that my call to ministry was birthed. As I looked out at that big world, I dreamed about what was worth giving my life too? What was worth working to make a difference? That’s when I believe my call was conceived, though at the time, it was just an egg-thought, not yet hatched.
Climbing trees was fun. Reaching new heights was great and seeing a bigger world was wonderful. But the greatest thing about climbing trees was the dreaming. I don’t think I (or any of us) dream enough anymore, and I think that’s getting us, and our world, in a lot of trouble.
Abraham was a dreamer, and an old one at that, so I don’t want any of you reading this to tell me that you’re too old to climb a tree – he was 90 when he dreamed the dream that God gave him, and he left everything he had with his spry wife of 80, Sara, following along.
It was on Pentecost that Peter proclaimed that a new day of dreaming had arrived: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams.”
The Apostle John, tells us, while an old man, and exiled on the Island of Patmos, that a new world was going to be born. For some reason I see him up in a tree, swaying in the wind and doing his best to write down: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The old has passed away. God will dwell with us on that day and there will wipe away every tear form our eyes, death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, those things have passed away.”
I think Jesus sat in some trees before he announced to his disciples, “And on the third day I will rise.”
Zacchaeus climbed a tree and from that vantage spot was able to see Jesus. And Jesus saw him. Then they had supper together, and Zacchaeus’s life was changed forever.
Maybe today is a perfect day to climb a tree, after all the weather is nice, spring is coming, now is the time to dreams some new and big dreams. If you don’t feel comfortable climbing into a tree, a chair on the porch will work just fine, but try to make it a rocking chair, I think the swaying is conducive for some dreaming.
~ God bless, Dan