In the previous post we looked at the character of Zacchaeus and his desire to see Jesus. From the standpoint of his character and position in society, there seemed to be nothing going for Zacchaeus in his desire to see Jesus except its intensity. Everything – both nature and nurture – seemed to conspire against him and his desire to meet Jesus: his stature, the stigma associated with his notorious occupation and the hostility of the crowd towards him. There was nothing conducive or encouraging in neither his environment nor his personal circumstances for an encounter with Jesus.
Everything seemed to work against Zacchaeus. Yet none of this fazed him. He was determined to seize the moment, grab the opportunity and take advantage of what seemed to be a hopeless situation. He refused to give in. He refused to capitulate.
With his sheer determination driven by intense desire to see Jesus, he overcame the unfavourable conditions of his own environment and set himself up for what he wanted and desired. He found a way round the unfavourable circumstances of his life and, against all odds, positioned himself to see Jesus. At the end of the day, that was all he could do and could ever be expected from him – to correctly position himself. Zacchaeus succeeded in his desire to see Jesus against all odds – odds which were stacked against him – not in his favour.
So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.
Zacchaeus could have very easily bemoaned his circumstances. He could have blamed society for stigmatising him and God for skimping on his height. He didn’t. He could have walked away cursing his luck. He didn’t. He had every reason to throw in the towel, but he pressed on, kept going and found ways to beat these odds. He forced the environment in his favour. He found ways around the very circumstances that conspired against him and overcame them in order to meet with Jesus. Such was the intensity of his desire and hunger for the Lord.
Very often and generally in life – and not only in the spiritual realm – we let our circumstances and environment rule, dictate and determine the outcomes of our lives when, like Zacchaeus, we too can set ourselves up for success if we refuse to give up as easily as we usually do and are ready to take on the challenge of circumstances we are routinely faced with.
And it was not so much about forcing anything but about positioning. Zacchaeus positioned himself well to fulfill the desire and hunger he had to see Christ. The essential ingredient of desiring God was there. It was now all about not allowing it to be drowned and lost in a sea of obstacles.
Zacchaeus did this by taking matters into his own hands and not allowing them to determine his destiny. He did not walk away depressed, disillusioned, defeated, disappointed and deflated by the obstacles he faced. He pressed on in spite of them. He was not ready to just give excuses and record another failed attempt. He was not consumed with self-pity as a result of the stigma suffered nor was he grumbling about the way he was and the fortune that seemed to have befallen him from his Creator. No, he did not!
Zacchaeus could have used his circumstances either to his advantage or made them excuses for his failed attempt to see Jesus. He chose the former.
What will you choose?
We cannot keep on giving our circumstances and even our natural limitations as excuses for not encountering the Lord and experiencing the transformation He desires for us as the most basic precondition to fulfilling His purpose in our lives.
Many, I believe, want or expect everything to be handed down to them on a plate, all set for their success. We sometimes even feel society owes it to us. We even want the conditions for the success of our relationship with God to be tailor made for our success. Clearly life doesn’t work that way because we live in a fallen and broken world. We don’t want to make the effort to create those circumstances by setting ourselves up for success. We look to and expect the situations to be right and perfect. If they’re not, we can’t be bothered to put in the effort to work them for our good. We can be very lazy and too quick to blame our environment for our failures and mishaps when we can influence and overcome our environments ourselves.
What is stopping or hindering you from experiencing The Lord Jesus for yourself?
What are the hindrances and blockages in your life (whether self or society imposed) that could even be cited as “legitimate” and “real”?
Your natural “limitations” and personal preferences may have created mental blocks based on your own very limited experience.
What needs to be addressed in your life at this moment that may be holding you back and preventing an encounter with the Saviour?
What strategic position do you need to take up right now in order for the Saviour to find you and for you to experience him on a deeper level?
The key learning or takeaway point from Zacchaeus’ life?
Identifying the factors that stand between you and a closer encounter with Christ (both personal and external/societal) and addressing them with the gusto, speed and determination Zacchaeus addressed his with resulting in his life-transforming encounter with Christ.
In the next (and final) post in this series, we will have a closer look at this encounter.