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Pools

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By Judy Villanueva

Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (John 5:5-8)

I looked at the sun hoping it would help me figure out where on earth I was! No luck! There were no mountains to mark north like back home and no cell phone to offer me a map. I turned around to find my three young children staring at me, their fearless leader, with such trusting faces. “It’s ok, mom! We’ll find our way back to the cabin.” Little did they know their mom was seriously direction-challenged, and while we were no more than a quarter mile from our destination I could not discern the way. So close to home, but lost! When I read about the invalid man who put his hope for healing in a pool of water I feel curious and decide to look more closely. The first thing I notice is that the man isn’t looking to Jesus for healing, nor does he appear to have much, if any, awareness of who is engaging him. He doesn’t get it and for some reason, this feels strangely consoling!

So often I feel like I must “get it right” to be effective in prayer. I must say the right thing, at the right time, and in the right way. I must pray the will of God, in faith, believing! Can you relate? Prayer becomes a formula that, if all the variables are plugged in correctly, will equal the answer I seek.

What I love about the encounter at Bethesda is that it breaks all the “get it right” rules and defies formulas.

The invalid doesn’t ask Jesus for anything, and when asked if he wants to be well, doesn’t actually say “yes!” Instead, he complains and explains his helpless plight to God, the God who saw him lying there and drew near to do what the pool could not. “Get up!” Jesus says, and he does.

Can you feel the shift from getting it right and praying perfect prayers to the splendid truth that God IS intimately aware of us and always FAITHFUL.

Even when we are unaware, Jesus sees us lying in our places of need and asks, “Do you want to be well?” The question takes sharp aim at pools that cannot bring us life or healing — people pools, financial pools, performance pools, and other pools that stir up false hope, but cannot command us to get up! I don’t want to be close to home and lost. I want to walk! I love that the man by the pool didn’t get it and am so blessed to watch the love of Christ find him and heal him and set him on his feet because, truth is — I am direction-challenged and need to be found by Jesus!

“Thank you, Jesus, for seeing me all the time. I am grateful and relieved that I don’t have to figure out the perfect prayer, or even, how to get home. Help me to put all my hopes in your faithful heart. Amen.”

What about you?

What are your places of need today?

Do you want to be well?

Where are you putting your hopes? In what pools are you trusting?

Do you feel lost?

Jesus sees you and cares about your life.

Worship

New!

DSC_0370By Judy Villanueva

Psalm 33:3-5

Sing to Him a new song;  play skillfully, and shout for joy.  For the word of the Lord is right and true;  he is faithful in all he does.  The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.  By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

Stumbling out of bed, I find my feet on autopilot heading toward the coffee maker.  It is 5:00 am and what is normally a pitch black landscape is lit up by a full moon. The pines cast their long moon shadows, winter aspens lift their branches in silhouette and the ground covered in snow catches the moonlight and lifts it back up again!  Cup in hand, I can’t help but stand at the window mesmerized, drawn into the beauty of this quiet morning worship.

It looks like all of creation is standing at attention as the moon sings over it with light!

All of a sudden, I become aware of a gift being offered me, a stirring in my heart that feels like hope!  I wish I could press “pause” on this moment and soak it up for hours but instead, as best I can, I join the worship and let God’s light sing over me!  “In this new day, Lord, help me to catch Your light and lift it back up again. Help me to sing you a new song.”

I wake up every New Years morning with great hope and energy for new things!  The day seems marked with fresh opportunities, brand new chances to be new, think new, do new! NEW!  And, somewhere embedded in all the notions of new is hope, waiting to be unearthed.  For most of us, each year is made up of the best and worst, the good and the bad, the life-giving and the life-depleting experiences. We’ve probably made many stellar choices and some, not so good. By years end, our hopes have likely been tossed about and may be lying on the floor bruised and unconscious.

And, there they might stay, if it wasn’t for our God who breathes out stars and makes new days with moonlight and songs!

Have your songs become old and drained of hope?  Look up from your life to God!  He is faithful in all He does, His word is true, and His love, unfailing!  He is the One who was and is and always will be — In Him all things are made new!  As I sit writing these words, the sun is lifting its light on the eastern horizon even as the moonlight lingers in the west, perfectly choreographed — as if they do it every day!  And, I stand in between, a happy witness to Light unearthing new hope and filling my heart with a new songs!

“Thank you for this morning, Lord, for the moonlight and quiet worship that help me find Your face. In this new day, Father, help me to catch Your light and lift it back up again. Amen.”

What about you?

What might your new song be this year?

Do you have some worn out hopes that you need God to resuscitate?

Do you know that God’s love is unfailing and His heart always faithful?

Worship

 

 

 

 

Rituals of Love

DSC_1491By Judy Villanueva

Jesus spoke to the people again. He said, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in darkness. They will have that light. They will have life.” (John 8:12)

“Daddy’s home! Tell him I’ve fallen asleep!” mom said with a wry smile, as she pushed back the recliner and closed her eyes. The four of us kids met dad at the door with excited giggles, pointing to mom and reporting that she was sound asleep. Then we all watched as this beautiful ritual unfolded, where dad would playfully say, “What? Mom is asleep? How can that be?” He would then walk over and give her a kiss amidst an eruption of laughter. We would watch as mom opened her eyes to find her prince at her side and, believe me, none of us missed the look that passed between them! It spoke to us of love and made a lasting deposit that filled our hearts with smiles! The love my parents shared was a whisper of True Love, steadfast, safe and sure…and, this silly little game drew us all into the happy celebration of it!

Rituals of love! They are the things we do to celebrate life, the ways we act out our gratitude and love.

It is how we mark moments and help ourselves remember the gifts we’ve been given.

Every year, Christians all over the world gather in anticipation of the Christ child. We shop, hang lights, bake cookies and play sparkly melodies that help us celebrate the birth of Hope.  And, standing conspicuously right alongside are our losses, dashed dreams and disappointments. They can make us want to turn away from the joy of the season and retreat to quiet places. Reality can sometimes be harsh and painful. How desperately we need God’s Light and Love to touch our real lives, in both the brightest and most broken places!

Whether it is lighting one candle or stringing a thousand colored lights, there is ONE Truth worth whatever it takes to rouse, remember, and celebrate.

True Love has come and His name is Jesus!

He is what we spend our lifetimes searching for, that thing we hope for as we tear open packages, the ONE we seek when we clamor to fill our lives with people, things, and meaningful causes. He is the hero we hoped would come!

Jesus IS the happy ending, the best story ever told — the Reality of True love, steadfast, safe and sure!

At 83 and 88, my parent’s love still offers its sweet blessings, even amidst life’s changes and challenges. When I see mom’s posted notes around the house that help dad orient to the day, or watch them as they sit side by side in recliners, or peek over when they exchange “sweet nothings,” I can still see that look pass between them. It points so gently beyond their love to the Love that came and gave all it had to have us for Christmas!

“Jesus is the best story I’ve ever heard and the love He offers seems too good to be true.  But, it’s true!  Thank you for finding me, for coming to this world, for making a WAY for me to be Yours and for filling my heart with smiles.  Amen.”

What about you?

Do you know the One who came to find you?

Do you recognize the ways you clamor to fill your heart with something who can’t quite name?

Celebrate!  Remember!  Light a candle!  Hang a thousand lights and ACT OUT your gratitude for the greatest gift ever given!

Merry Christmas!

Worship

 

 

 

 

Life to the Full

DSC_0929By Judy Villanueva

I have come that you might have life, life to the full.” (John 10:10)

Standing next to the stone border that marked safe footing, my little grand daughter and I peered into an abyss of clouds that shrouded the incredible masterpiece.  So close, we eagerly strained to see what the wind and water had carved over the millennia. Staring down into the greyish lavender veil, we could see a depth of red, burnt orange and deep blues breaking through. All of a sudden, I heard the precious girl next to me gasp as the Grand Canyon opened up before her!  She could not help but smile, stretch out her arms and jump up and down. It is one thing to read about a wonder and quite a different experience to stand in front of it and feel its power surround you. Watching her delight and utter amazement blessed me.  She didn’t try to understand it, she simply received the gift it offered and danced!

There is something about these kinds of experiences that splash us with glory and offer us a gulp of life to the full.

For many years I understood “fullness of life” to refer to a life lived “happily ever after”— no worries, no pain, and a picket white fence!  When suffering did arrive, I didn’t know how to make sense of it and, even more troubling, I didn’t know how to make sense of God. I think part of the problem was with my expectations of God, what He should do and how He should do it.  I tend to forget that He is always up to something far beyond anything I could ever imagine, like Grand Canyons and massive rock walls layered in color and, little girls who remind me how to dance before beauty!  When I stop trying to control God and simply stretch out my arms in faith, I find myself at peace and open to receive the gifts God offers me, in all their unexpected packaging!

When Jesus said he came that we might have life to the full, did he really mean He came that we might have God?   

Are Grand Canyon moments designed to take our breath away and help us stumble over the One who IS our fullness?

It would explain why we discover hidden in beautiful canyons, great music, tasty bites, and blessed friendships, a shalom* that fills us fuller than full!   We drove hours and hours to get to the edge of this indescribable wonder, and when it opened up before us, God spoke! To a little girl He said, “I am here, deep and wide and beautiful!  Let’s dance!” To me, her Nana, He said, “I AM fullness of life! Behold, bow, stretch out your arms and be filled!” And, as I stood in silent awe, I heard, or did I imagine Him whisper,  “And, daughter, you are not too old to dance!”

“Thank you, Father God, that you came to give me life to the full! Help me follow beauty to your throne room, delight to your face and trials to your arms. For the Grand Canyon and all the ways you announce who you are, I am so grateful!  Fill me up! Amen.”

What about you?

Have you tasted life to the full?

What moments have you experienced that usher you into that deep place of shalom?

Does wanting to control God interfere with receiving the gifts of life that each day offers you?

When was the last time you danced before beauty?  Stretch out your arms!

*“Shalom” – completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.” (Strongs Concordance)

Worship

Believing!

DSC_1456By Judy Villanueva

“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24)

“A short-cut!” my husband exclaimed and off he traipsed across the lake-bed. I was a small distance behind and watched as he blazed a new trail only to end up thigh deep in mud! Oof! He was thoroughly stuck and had to lay down flat in order to work his legs free and maneuver his way back to solid ground. I guess that’s a good picture of my life as it relates to “believing”. I want to believe and do…until I don’t…and then, I’m just stuck in the mud of unbelief, uncertain where to turn or how to get back on feet of faith. My challenge of belief is not whether God CAN do anything, but rather, lies in the muddy mire of WILL He do what I ask?

The “can” and the “will” of it are two separate matters, I suppose, but when I’m on my knees pleading for pity — I want both! The CAN of God inspires me to ask with great expectation for anything and everything on my heart but it is the WILL of God that governs His CAN and demands that I exercise faith.

Do I trust His yes or no? Will I tolerate “what happens next” when it isn’t what I’ve prayed for?

“If you can?” are the words that seem to jump out at me today with care and confrontation. They seems to look me in the eyes with love and ask if I do, in fact, know with Whom I am speaking when I pray.

When I want what I want, are my prayers lifted to the God who not only CAN but always DOES in perfect harmony with His wise and good purposes? In the midst of my pain or impatience, can I remember that the One to Whom I pray CAN ONLY be true and faithful? What then shall I believe?

That I’ll always understand the answers God gives or that He WILL forever ACT with perfection and love…beyond my understanding?

Jesus words, “If I can?” invite me to stop and look at Him today, to sit at His side and let His voice overshadow my doubts. When He is next to me and at the heart of all my prayers, I can feel my feet of faith grow wings and my unbelief set free from the mud to trust God do the impossible … above and beyond what I can see or understand!

“Jesus, in Your presence I find rest for my soul and faith to believe that everything is possible. Draw me close to Your heart where I am reminded with Whom I am speaking and given courage to believe that You CAN and WILL be faithful always. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you mindful when you pray that you are speaking with the God of the universe? It helps!

What fuels your believing? Feelings or faith?

What are you believing God for today?

God cannot but WILL and ACT in accord with His perfect knowledge and faithful heart. You can trust Him and believe that beyond what you can see.

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Worship

Straightened!

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By Judy Villanueva

Luke 13:1-16

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

“What are you afraid of?” I asked my husband. He turned and looked at me with the most curious expression, almost as though he didn’t understand the question. “Well…nothing really,” he responded. “Nothing? You are not afraid of anything?” I queried. I have struggled with fear for as long as I can remember and God was helping me understand that I was living under the constraint of it as though it was normal! It felt like God was taking me by the hand and walking me into the light of understanding my condition. Not all at once, but gently, as I could handle the reality of my crippled state. And, as it became clearer and clearer that I was living “bent over” and unable to straighten, a desire arose in my heart…for freedom!

Sadly, we get used to being “bent over” and walk about the planet unaware that staring at the ground is not what we were made for!

Whether it is fear that pushes us downward or something else, God sees our condition and cares. He absolutely and always remembers that we were created for freedom. Jesus saw the crippled woman in synagogue and, as naturally as taking the next breath, He simply spoke the will of God over her, “Woman, you are set free.” She then felt the hands of God touch her and immediately straightened up to praise Him!

Dare we look with Jesus at where and how we are bent? It is easier to pretend that we are fine or, hide our “bent” parts so that no one will see our brokenness. We are embarrassed and ashamed but God is not! He keeps seeing who He made us to be and cherishes every bit of us…always!  What is curious to me about this healing encounter is that there is no mention of the crippled woman asking for healing.

It blesses me to read that after eighteen years of being stooped over she got up from wherever she was and walked crooked to synagogue!

There she knew she would be near to God and hear his Word.  What she could not have known is that on that day she would show up bent and leave straightened, loved and set free.

“Jesus, that you saw this woman reminds me afresh of who you are! A Healer, an Advocate, and a Straighten-upper:) Thank you that you never get lost in what you are doing and forget how much we need you! Come and touch me and anyone reading this in need of healing today. Amen.”

What about you?

Have you gotten use to being “bent over”? Do the things that bind you feel normal?

How do you feel about being helped to see, with Jesus, where you are “bent over”?

Can you trust Jesus to take you by the hand to freedom?

God is the One who lifts up, straightens and breaths freedom! Please don’t settle for a life “bent over”. He came that we might have life to the full! (John 10:10)

Worship

God in Our Midst

zorrodeckBy Judy Villanueva

Zephaniah 3:17                                                                                                                                                   The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Psalm 73:26                                                                                                                                                            My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Sitting on the deck overlooking a vista that stretches out for miles, I found myself a witness to declarations of emerald green, sage and hints of autumn yellow.  In those spacious moments, with only the wind and a sweet black lab to keep me company, I felt the reality of God surround me.  It’s always there, I know, but I tend to get lost in the here and now of my life and, too often, lose hold of the Divine Presence that offers me its consolations of love every minute of every day.  With beauty His backdrop, the Eternal, Immortal, Invisible God intruded on my temporal reality and offered me a gift of peace. Himself!

Have you ever noticed that life is always an integration of the temporal and eternal?  Our present, physical circumstances and the Kingdom of God in our midst! In other words, we live in two realities all the time.  One that we can see and touch, and the other, Invisible

Loved, watched over, purposed and protected, always the Beautiful Reality next to us, even when we cannot see or feel it.

Stressors and joys, wins and losses, births and deaths happen in the context of God’s sovereignty.  That’s HUGE because the Reality that God holds all of life all the time ignites faith, refreshes hope and becomes a place of peace in the midst of storms.

When trials come, it is easy to live disintegrated and narrowed to experiencing life in the temporal.  Worry likes to pound its fist and insist we define reality strictly by what we can see and know.

But any perspective void of the God in our midst will confine the soul and cut off hope.

I want the Truth of God, wise and powerful, kind and good, “over, above, in and through,” to infuse my days with drips of eternity!  I want the Divine to break in and declare that God is always with me and that my life isn’t just about my life.  It is about a victorious warrior who is building a Kingdom right in the middle of my “here and nows.”  He is the God in our midst who rejoices over us and breaks into our temporal realities with declarations of emerald green, shouts of joy, and a gift of peace.  Himself!

“Thank you, Father, that you are the God in our midst!  Awaken me to this reality, and help me enter into your good company today.  For your exultations of joy and quiet love, that you rejoice and shout joy over me, thank you!  Amen.”

How about you?

How do you pull the reality of God into your day-to-day life?

Do you need to remember that God is with you?

Are you “intrudible”? Or, does “busy” keep you from noticing God in your midst?

When was the last time you felt the reality of God surround you?

Knowing God and spending time in His Word renews our minds, refreshes our faith and helps us experience His Heart.

Worship

Drink!

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By Judy Villanueva

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:4-14) 

Another mile passed on a recent road trip and I could feel the relief that springtime always offers as I stared out the window.  Mesmerized by luscious green fields with purple mountain backdrops, I suddenly noticed a scene that made me smile and seemed to invite me to a holy pause.  At first, all I saw was a large grass field with gushing water stations spaced across its width.  Before I could make much sense of it, my eyes fell upon one cow that stood in front of a gusher drinking and drinking!  It made me laugh the way she stood so easily over the fountain and let the water fill and saturate her. Do you ever have those moments when a song, a scene from a movie, or a cow in a  field become the voice of God?  This was one of those moments, and even as I heard myself giggle, I felt the Lord say to me, “Drink!”

“Give me a drink.”  It was the way Jesus invited the Samaritan woman to friendship and the way he stirred up her thirst for living water.  She is immediately aware that something has broken through the barriers between Jew and Samaritan and becomes curious.  It is then that Jesus reveals himself — there that He offers her a drink from an eternal spring! “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who asks you for a drink…”

Can you feel the heartbeat of God in this encounter, each beat reaching out, wooing and offering a priceless gift?

It makes me curious about all the ways that Jesus comes to me with enticements to drink each day and aware that the thirst that parches my soul often  lingers because I simply and stubbornly do not walk over to the gusher and drink.

When I read scripture, there are times when the words seem to enter the room where I sit and become a drink of living water, particularly on days like this when I sit still and unhurried.  I am thirsty for God but so often don’t even know it and hence, live “dried up” instead of filled and overflowing.

Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — The wet, refreshing overflow of a saturated life!

How I want to live hydrated, but I must agree to pause at the well with Jesus and learn how to drink deeply.  It is then that I get a glimpse of the One who asks me for a drink and there, that  I feel my true thirst!   The Word of God wants to pour itself into our hearts and minds —but we need to walk over and drink!

“Thank you, Jesus, for seeing me at the wells that I draw from each day and offering me friendship. Keep showing me who You are and help me find my way to your springs of living water! Amen.”

What about you?

Do you know the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink?

Can you feel your thirst for God?

Do you have a way of pausing at the well with Jesus and drinking deeply?

What does that look like for you?

Worship

FaceTime

DSC_1285By Judy Villanueva

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

“Crinkle, crinkle yittle star, how I wonder what you are…” I sang gently alongside my little grand-daughter as I rocked her to sleep. Her head rested on my shoulder and before long, I could feel her go limp in my arms.  I placed her in the crib, prayed a quiet prayer and stood a minute watching her surrender to sleep. In those sweet moments, God tapped me on the shoulder and I felt drawn into awareness that, much like this,

He watches over me wherever I happen to be in my life. He sees me as I come and as I go.  He sings alongside my songs and delights in knowing and loving me.

He may feel distant at times, but I only need look up to find His face!  He is always there, His eyes awaiting mine.

Seeking the face of God as we walk through our day invites us to notice where He is speaking, correcting, or guiding.  It may seem vague, but it really is as simple as returning to awareness that God is here.  Simple or not, I find I need practical help and so I set an alarm on my phone that rings every hour to remind me to “look up”.  It is easy to live a day immersed in activity, mentally disconnected from God, but anytime I agree to slow down I can feel soul-space open up and the potential for face-time!  I try to build into my week a rhythm of walks, prayer, spiritual reading, listening to worship music, and meditating on the Word, all as efforts to look at Jesus.  We live fully known by God at every moment, but if we want to see His face in the mirror, His life formed in us, we must engage with Him!

I am always intrigued by the moments in Scripture that mention an eye-to-eye encounter with Jesus. Like Jairus, who upon receiving word of his daughter’s death, looks up to find Jesus’ eyes on him with a command, “Do not be afraid. Just believe.” I can imagine Jairus thinking, “What shall I believe? My daughter has just died!”

Whatever it was that Jairus saw as he stood facing Jesus grabbed him from the midst of his despair, set him on his feet, and led him to a resurrection!

“Talitha Koum! Little girl, wake up!” And, she did! Is this what happens when we face Jesus?  Do we notice Him looking at us over the crowd and into our broken hearts?  Are we helped to hear His voice that shouts hope to our despair?  Are we emboldened to follow Him to places where our lives are restored and where we feel His gentle tap that reminds us He is watching over us?

“Lord, I want to see Your face. I want to remember You and live in Your presence more today than yesterday. Help me to engage with you, to slow down enough to hear you calling to me over, what is sometimes, a crowded life. Thank You for the tap on my shoulder and the reassurance that you watch over me. Amen.”

What about you?

What would be like to live a day looking at Jesus? How might it affect your thoughts? Your choices?

Have you experienced the face of God? The sense of Him seeing and knowing you?

Does the pace of your life allow for slowing down? Can you see Jesus over what crowds around you each day?

What habits help you connect to God?

God loves you and knows you. He watches over you always. Slow down and look up!

Worship

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Climbing Trees

UP! aspens

By Judy Villanueva

Luke 19:1-6

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over 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 to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

I love Zacchaeus’ spunk and determination! Even though his profession was dubious and his choices up to this point, questionable, when he hears that Jesus is coming he runs ahead and climbs a tree. Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus and he doesn’t let his stature or a tall crowd get in his way!  Watching him run, climb and sit eagerly perched in a tree tugs at something in my heart this morning…

The tax collector’s curiosity about Jesus, a kind that chases him up a tree, confronts me. Zacchaeus’ determination to go after what would probably be only a glimpse of Jesus invites me to “wake up” with fresh eyes for the coming of Christ in my day. Think about it!

Jesus arrives in our day, every day!  He comes our way and asks if He can stay with us.

How often do I miss Jesus because I’m not even expecting Him and how can I possibly welcome Him with gladness if I don’t even notice His presence in my day?

As I read this passage, my attention shifts to Jesus and I am struck at what happens next! Up in the sycamore tree with Zaccheus, I see Jesus in the distance and my heart begins to race! I, too, have heard stories and find myself longing to hear his voice and see his face. How I want His life to touch mine! To my delight and utter amazement, when He reaches the branch where Zacchaeus and I sit, He looks up!

He knows we are eager for His notice and His notice affirms us in the deepest place of our soul.

I feel taught by Zacchaeus today. He shows me what it looks like to run past curiosity to a tree climbing pursuit of Jesus! Today, I want to remember that Jesus is coming!  I want to be present to life with eager expectation and feel His touch through sweet embraces, the kindness of His Word, and the gentle movements of grace that bless me each day.  I want to welcome Jesus with gladness however He comes to me today!

“Lord Jesus, thank You for looking for me up in trees or wherever I happen to be. Forgive my apathy in not watching for your daily arrivals. Fill me with fresh fervor to climb trees, hang out on branches, and welcome you with gladness. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you tuned in to the commotion that is signaling the coming of Christ in your life today?

Are you curious about Jesus? Who is He?

Is there anything keeping you from seeing Jesus?

Are you watching and waiting for God’s arrival in your day? Are you ready to welcome Him with gladness?

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