I think it’s been a few years since I’ve climbed a tree, but it’s something that I definitely enjoyed as a kid. I can remember specific instances were I climbed a tree to put up Christmas lights with my dad and the fun I had climbing a particular tree at a park near my house. As you might know, there’s even a story in the gospels about a man who climbed a tree. This passage about Zacchaeus, a tax collector who wanted to see Jesus, was the gospel reading for mass one day last week. I’ve heard the story many times, but this time it has stuck with me. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. He was so eager to see Jesus that he, a grown man, climbed a tree.
I’ve been praying lately about how to make God more prominent in my life. It can be so easy for me to separate my spiritual life (prayer, relationship with God, etc.) from the rest of my life, but like I talked about in my last blog, this is not the way God intends for me to live. He created everything about me and wants to be a part of every aspect of my life. I’ve realized that one way to make this happen is to work on noticing God throughout my day: His creation is all around me; He is present in every person I encounter; He is always with me, through every joy and every struggle.
Seeing God in these ways is hard for me. Zacchaeus was so desperate to see Jesus and to know who He was that he climbed a tree. Am I ever that eager to see God in my own life–so eager that I go out of my way to see Him? Maybe I do when I’m struggling with something, but most of the time, probably not. As I re-read the gospel passage, I see that Zacchaeus’ efforts to see Jesus were rewarded: Jesus recognized him, called him by name, and even went to stay at his house. It may take hard work and practice to continually seek God, but I know that it will be worth it, and when I see Him, I hope to “receive Him with joy” as Zacchaeus did.
Lord, help me to climb trees again: that more often every day, I will do what it takes for me to see You. Open my eyes to see You throughout my day: not only in prayer, but in every blessing, every situation, and every person.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. – Luke 19:2-6