Anyway, in class we had a good discussion. Okay, it was pretty predictable, actually. It was about judgment of others, Zacchaeus' willing to look stupid to see Christ, salvation, Jesus knowing Zacchaeus' name when He walked up to the tree. Pretty predictable. At least it was until I shared my part.
Like I shared with you earlier this week, the Lord spoke to me about how people only find their value in Him, and once they realize their value in Him, the things that used to be their definers aren't important anymore.
But for me there was something else.
Every time I read this passage and prayed for the Lord to speak, I heard simply,
"Would you have climbed the tree?"
In case you don't know, the religiously correct answer is, "Yes, I would have definitely climbed that tree to see Jesus." I am rarely, if ever, accused of being religiously correct, and I answered honestly.
"No, I would not have climbed the tree. Not today. Because today, it feels like it doesn't matter if I climb a tree or not. If you want to find me, you'll find me. If you don't, you won't. Being in a tree or not being in a tree won't matter."
In fact, on that particular day, nothing seemed to matter.
Now, I realize none of the rest of you ever, EVER feel that way.
None of you ever feel like the desires of your heart don't matter.
None of you ever feel like your prayers haven't made a difference up till now and they won't make a difference now.
None of the rest of you have ever looked at the altar at the front of your church or the prayer ministers waiting to pray with you or heard someone ask how they can pray for you and thought, "It doesn't matter. Climbing that tree won't make a difference, so why bother."
But just in case one of you might have possibly known someone who could have had that thought once, let me share some things I'm doing that is helping me win the war of the tree.
First, I confessed. I confessed to God that I was mad at Him. I know. You are probably mortified and thinking I have no right to be mad at God. No. I don't, but I was. I was mad that He has made promises that He has confirmed repeatedly, promises that I want so badly, that have not come to pass. Years have passed, and they haven't come to pass, and I was angry.
Second, I quit comparing myself to Abraham. Seriously. Yes, Abraham waited a long time for Isaac, but in the meantime, he had Ishmael. I used to look at that and wonder how in the world someone who had a clear word from God could be so stupid. I now know. He wasn't stupid. He was empty. He and Sarah both were empty, and they found a road to fulfillment that could rationalize and ran hard and fast down it. The Bible never says that Abraham was mad at God, and we know he believed God and God credited that to him as righteousness, but Abraham got tired. When he got tired, the empty pulled him in. None of us are perfect.
Third, I have been praying specifically for strength in my mind, heart, soul, and body to climb the tree. We are told to serve the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. Obviously I'm missing at least one of those, so I confessed that, too, and asked the Lord to meet me in my weakness and be strong in and through me. I pray this every morning.
Fourth, I pray for the Lord to tell me what "tree" I need to climb to see Him. Here is what I mean. Zacchaeus climbed the tree because he couldn't see Jesus from where he was. I have been praying for God to show me exactly what I need to do to get from where I am where I don't or can's see Jesus to the point where I can see Jesus. Believe it or not, the answer is primarily prayer time. The very thing I told God seemed to make no difference in whether I see Jesus is making a huge difference in how I feel about climbing the tree.
Fifth, I pulled out my prayer cards again. I have maybe 100 prayer cards with verses that I pray and meditate on. Not all of them in one sitting, but right now, I have 30 or so cards I read every morning and pray from the scripture on them. For instance, one of the cards is about Blind Barnabus who was on the side of the road and Jesus went by. When Barnabus heard it was Christ, he started yelling, "Son of David, have mercy on me." Jesus called him to Him, and Barnabus threw off his cloak and went to Jesus. When Jesus asked what he wanted, Barnabus asked for his sight, and Jesus gave it to him. When that card comes up, I pray that:
- The Lord would show me places I am blind to Him and the way I could help others.
- I would throw off any thing, like a beggar's robe, that might keep me where I am instead of being healed from anything He desires to change in me for His glory
- I would never be embarrassed to call on Him even when everyone was looking, pointing fingers, and thinking I was totally unworthy of His gifts, blessings, and kindness
- I would be bold in calling out to Him what I need.
Finally, well, it's more what God does than what I do, but when I get frustrated and say, "It doesn't matter," He responds with, "How can you ever say you don't matter to me?" And honestly, His tone is not all compassion and warm fuzzies, and it shouldn't be. He has a right to be offended by the accusation that I don't matter to Him, that He has a heart of stone toward me, that He could ever not find me important. That really is what that statement is saying. "I don't matter to you. Our relationship doesn't matter to you. You keeping your word and being faithful to your word doesn't matter to you. My empty place that aches doesn't matter...because you are a bad Father." Let's be real here. When we tell God we don't matter, we are telling Him He is a bad Father. Only a heartless, bad father doesn't care about His children. Only a self-centered father doesn't think his children are important. That is not our God.
So when He corrects me and asks, "How can you ever say you don't matter to me?", I stop and say, "Of course I matter. Of course I am important to you." I don't say these things in lip service. I say them with conviction, and I meditate on the truth of them. I let them soak deep into me. I let my mind be transformed and my thinking changed. I start thinking like He does. I'm important. I matter.
Is all of that making a difference?
This morning I had a few things for which I had prayed for specific outcomes, and the exact opposite occurred. So I got my coffee and a blanket, went outside to the rocking chair on the deck and said, "I choose to climb the ladder anyway. Lord, show me how."
The most wildly beautiful part in all this: I told God it didn't matter if I climbed the ladder or not. If He wanted to find me, He would...and He did...because I really do matter.
May you find Him...when you climb the tree...and especially when you are so weary that you can't climb the tree, may He find you.