A favorite Sunday School song goes:
Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed his way, he looked up in the tree.
He said “Zacchaeus, you come down – for I’m going to your house today!”
I find the Bible story behind this little jingle very inspiring because it shows the possibility of God providing the remedy for human challenges, with the end result being healing.
You see, Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector who had become wealthy by cheating the people of Jericho. When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming into Jericho, he ran outside because he had a real desire to see Jesus. Unable to see him because of the crowd (he was a very short man), he noticed the sycamore tree and climbed it to get a better view. That action would forever change him and the way he viewed himself!
You might be asking why I am so inspired by this story and how this story relates to modern-day life.
Well, for starters, sycamore trees live for up to 600 years. So, long before Zacchaeus needed that tree, it was planted.
Secondly, what was it that impelled a grown man in the midst of a huge crowd to climb that tree? Did he have an intuition that God was providing an opportunity for him to “move up higher”?
Despite Zacchaeus’ dishonesty, Jesus honored him by going to his house and showing him God’s love and compassion. As a result, Zacchaeus had a change of heart and was healed, no longer bound to the label of dishonest tax collector. He must have glimpsed his spiritual purity in God’s eyes, and in gratitude he gave half of his wealth to the poor and restored what he had stolen from others.
Nineteen hundred years later, Mary Baker Eddy rose above what appeared to be insurmountable issues. She faced chronic sickness, poverty, an unfaithful husband, and the death of several close loved ones. Yet, through deep study of the Bible and persistent prayer, she discovered the divine laws behind Jesus’ healing works. She authored Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and founded a worldwide religion, Christian Science, which affirms that healing through God’s all-powerful laws is possible now and for all time.
Some people have said that spirituality and religion are not relevant in today’s world. And that could be true for religion that is merely blind faith in a man-like God. But, when I was faced recently with a dishonest situation with a dear friend, I found something much more real and reliable to help me.
I had a choice: end a friendship of many years or forgive a great financial favor I had done years ago when this friend had been in dire straits. I had agreed to “bail him out,” expecting eventual repayment. When he started distancing himself from me, apparently to avoid repayment, I felt betrayed and hurt. Turning to God for direction, it became clear to me that I had to see this friend as Jesus had seen Zacchaeus.
Jesus saw ”the perfect man,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, “who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals.” It was clear to me that I had to see my friend, under God’s laws, as perfect, trustworthy and incapable of being a dishonest sinning mortal man. Before long, the situation was resolved to the satisfaction of both of us.
Do you feel small in this world – so crowded by challenges that you can’t see how God can help you? As the sycamore tree created a clear line of vision for Zacchaeus, your sycamore tree can be prayer to understand God better and see yourself more spiritually. Then don’t be surprised if you find your needs met.
"The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick," wrote Mary Baker Eddy, "is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,—a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love."
We might be thinking that we are always trying to get someplace where we can see God. But the truth is that God, as infinite Spirit or divine Principle, is always present. -- and anything is possible. His laws are always available to be learned and relied upon.
Whatever your need is, when you pray with a hungering heart -- whether for a glimpse of your own innate purity or to know God in a way you’ve never known him before -- you open yourself up to receive all that He has for your life.
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Debra writes about the connection between thought, spirituality and wellness from a Christian Science perspective. She has been published in USA Today, the UK, Knoxville News Sentinel, chattanoogan.com, UK Health Triangle Magazine, Jackson Sun Health Magazine, and in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. She is the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in TN.