I used to want to live in a tree.
I love trees. I love oaks and maples and magnolias and even the ones I don't know the names of. Trees are great. Fruit trees, climbing trees, Christmas trees... seriously, bet you can't think of one bad tree. Right? Thought so.
I'm the oldest of five children, and the zillions of trees on our property were my biggest allies in the war waged against my three younger brothers. When they broke my birthday figurine collection? "Here, Rich... this is a persimmon tree," I remember saying. "They aren't ripe yet, but you can have the biggest one if you want." (His lips were puckered for a week.)
When they tattled? "What do you mean there's something prickly in your bed? What... are you afraid of a few dozen sweet gum balls?" (There were pinecones under there too, I think.)
When they outed me for my role in the 4-wheeler/smash-into-the-front-of-the-house incident? "Oh... that baseball card collection? Last time I saw those dumb cards they were hanging in the oak tree by Grandmother's house." (Really... who likes A-Rod now anyway?)
And when I just needed to beat the crowd? I'd hide in or near a tree. No one could see me. I was invisible.
Ah, yes. Trees come in handy. I mean, it's even in the Bible. Remember Zacchaeus? (The "wee little man"?) Back then, he was called a small-in-stature tax collector. Today, we'd call him a short IRS agent. Regardless, squatty Zacchaeus... well, you remember the story:
"He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." - Luke 19:3-5, NIV
I heard a sermon on this story once. The preacher made a big deal of the fact that Jesus wanted to hang out with Zacchaeus - that Jesus reached out to the short IRS agent. I think that's something, but it's never been the part of the story that's stood out to me. No, what I love most about this story is that Jesus... well, again:
"When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, come down...."
He called him by name. Jesus said Zacchaeus' name. Apparently the two had never been introduced, since the story begins with the disclaimer that Zacchaeus "wanted to see who Jesus was". And yet, although they'd never been introduced, when Jesus reached the spot where Zacchaeus was perched, he looked up and called him by name. Jesus already knew him.
I might not know you. And I don't know if you're even curious about who Jesus is. But I do know this: no matter where you've been hiding, Jesus already knows your name. Even if you've never been introduced, Jesus knows who you are. You're not invisible. You're not anonymous. Not to Jesus. And when you're ready to climb down - off your wealth, off your rebellion, off your pride, off your education, off your priorities, off the tree-of-your-own-making, Jesus will be there waiting.
I love trees. But I've learned they're no place to live. Not when there's so much waiting for you on the ground.