I have been thinking quite a bit about change just recently. WL Bateman is credited with saying;
If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always got
Many people know that they need to make changes in their lives. For some, it’s a small change that will make their lives a little more comfortable or a little more bearable. For some, it’s a big dramatic change that may be forced on them. Health changes are amongst the big dramatic ones. They find themselves realising that “unless I change then…”
One of my favourite stories in the Bible is the story of Zacchaeus (you can read it in Luke 19 vs. 1 – 10). The little man who climbed up a tree in order to see Jesus. It’s a story I grew up with in Sunday School and I still love telling this one in school assemblies. But on a personal level, it also one that I love to read.
I picture in my mind the little man stuck at the back of the crowd bouncing up and down, like Tigger in Winnie The Pooh, desperately trying to get a glimpse of this Jesus that He has heard so much about.
When that doesn’t work he climbs a sycamore tree and as Jesus comes along he stops, looks at Zacchaeus and invites himself for tea.
It was almost 7 years ago that I visited Jericho and as part of our tour we taken to see the “very sycamore tree” that Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus. That is what our guide told us – I have my doubts it was the very one. I took photos of it anyway
What lies at the heart of the story of Zacchaeus is change.
It’s the story of a change that isn’t forced but, a change that is desired because, I believe, that Zacchaeus had reached that point in his life where he wanted to change.
On the outside he may have looked prosperous and wealthy. On the inside, there was nothing. If he had kept on doing what he had always done Zacchaeus would have got what he had always had. What he had was rejection, loneliness and emptiness.
As I have been thinking about changes I have realised that often, we keep on doing what we have always done because despite knowing that we want to change we don’t know how
Often in life we find ourselves stuck in a rut. In a pattern that we end up feeling that we are almost powerless to change.
For Zacchaeus, there comes that moment when Jesus stops and looks at him. I believe within that look there is not anger, disgust or disappointment there is simply love.
Jesus knows what Zacchaeus is. He knows how Zacchaeus has lied and cheated. He knows how Zacchaeus has put his love of money above integrity, justice and fellowship. I also believe that Jesus knew that, deep down, Zacchaeus wanted to change.
We don’t know what was said in their conversation over the tea table but, what we do know is that the presence of Jesus made a difference. He gave Zacchaeus the strength and the courage to change.
Publically, Zacchaeus would go on to acknowledge his failure, what he would do to put things right. He also invites those who hate him to hold him to account.
That takes immense courage. I am not sure I would ever have the courage to do the same
Sometimes, change and the thought of change can be a scary prospect. That is often where I get stuck. There are things that I want to change. Things that I know have to change. Yet it isn’t easy. What I know may not be working but, at least I know it.
How do I make the changes I need to? I need the strength and the courage that only God can provide. God often has to remind me that I have relied too much upon myself and not leant on Him.
Maybe, within your life, you are aware that you cannot go on the same way that you always have. Maybe there are changes that are needed. Perhaps today would be a good time to have a chat with Jesus and let Him help you