“When Faith Takes You Out On a Limb”

I arrived early with mama, but I made sure to keep a ‘safe distance’ from the other children as they made their way to the spot of gathering. It was the first day of school. There they were, those familiar scrutinizing eyes, examining me from head to toe. I could feel my palms began to moisten with the first hints of sweat. Here I stood — the different one — the one whose skin, hair and eyes were not like theirs.

In the classroom, I held my breath as the teacher read the names on the student roster. All the other names that preceded mine seemed to require no effort as they rolled right off her tongue with ease as if she were calling old friends from her neighborhood. My heart pounded as she neared that part of the alphabet where I felt so alone and that announced to the world that I was not from her neighborhood.

So I chose to remain in the shadows for years. My younger self decided it was safer to be inconspicuous. Even if you have to contend with being lonely most of the time. But even in the lonely places bad companions like bitterness, anger, and resentment partner up with you and lead you down a wayward path.

When I finally met up with Jesus, I had the hardest time wrapping my mind around that fact that I no longer had to ‘hide’ in embarrassment or fear. My eyes were opened to the fact that GOD’s Eyes were on me all along simply out of love and He fully knew and understood what I was feeling and thinking every moment of my life. El Roi (the GOD Who sees me) had been with and seen me through every heart-wrenching and tear-filled moment. GOD had already worked things out for my good while I could not even make sense of things. Hard to imagine that while you’re in the thick of it, but it is every bit true. Everything was part of His Plan for me. To this day, some things ‘make sense,’ but some other things remain unanswered. And that’s okay for me because I trust Him to do what He will with all of that.

Reading about Zacchaeus in the nineteenth chapter in the Book of Luke, I can totally relate. Yes, *chuckle* right down to the very vertically challenged stature (I’m going to have some laughs with Zaccheus in heaven, I’m sure).

This was a man who had lived a sinful life (just like the rest of us), but had come to terms with the fact that GOD offers forgiveness no matter how bad we may have lived or how devastating the consequences of our decisions. And like so many of us, Zacchaeus wanted a glimpse of what forgiveness in skin looked like. He literally went out on a limb and didn’t give a second thought about exposure, ridicule or appearances. And much to his surprise, Jesus looked right up at Zacchaeus and called him out.

Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today. Luke 19:1-5 NLT

I love this! GOD saw Zacchaeus when he thought it not possible — which meant GOD took great care to behold all the details about Zacchaeus before Zacchaeus publicly proclaimed his faith. And when Jesus called him out, he called him by name as a friend.

I imagine that Zacchaeus fought through the crowd with every ounce of energy. His mind was set on just catching a passing view of Jesus who was speaking of forgiveness, love and healing. Somewhere along the way, something clicked in his soul. Maybe conviction. Somehow the Words of Jesus had made their way into his heart and pierced his conscience. Possibly hope. That unexplainable supernatural way of GOD. And while we may not know all the answers, we can still trust. I’m not sure that Zacchaeus fully realized Who had called his name until they sat down to dinner that night.

Just as GOD saw me in my sad-sorry-pitiful-place, He also sees you, Sister. And He calls us out by name because He wants us to know He has known us from our beginnings and He knows we can have beautiful endings. This is sweeter than sweet! Despite how ugly our past or present, no matter how much we would rather hide in the shadows of what plagues us, GOD still loves us with a longing to have a deep and honest relationship with Him and to save us.

If we know Christ as our personal Messiah, then we have the assurance of that peace and relationship with GOD. If that relationship has yet to be established, I believe you hear Him calling you out right now.

Now pay attention; I am standing at the door and knocking. If any of you hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to visit with you and to share a meal at your table, and you will be with Me. Revelation 3:20 The Voice

Jesus called Zacchaeus and had that communion meal with him. He met Zacchaeus right where he was and it was the game changer for the rest of his life.

  • In what way(s) do you need GOD to be a Game Changer for you in your life?
  • What hot mess are you trying to fix on your own?

At the very moment that Jesus called out Zacchaeus, He put a different spin on transparency. And for me, that can be a ‘hide-my-face’ place to be.

Transparency scares me, because I’ve always thought that if people knew the real me they would run away from me. Imperfections, sin, all of that yuck. But El Roi, the GOD Who sees me, loves me and calls me to Himself in spite of all that. When Jesus steps onto the scene, everything changes — that’s how it always works. GOD no longer sees the muddied soul that was determined to hide in guilt and shame. He sees me as His cherished daughter and beckons me to come out into the open. And it gets better, Sister. Because GOD is King, that makes me (us) a Princess(es).

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost.” Luke 19:9-10 NLT

  • Do I still have days that are challenging? Yes, absolutely!
  • Do I trip, stumble and bumble? You bet! Just like someone in unfamiliar stilettos.
  • Do those red-faced moments still occur? Unfortunately, yes.
  • Does GOD continue to lavishly love on me even though I still mess up? That’s the best part — He never stops.

Coming face-to-face with the Lover of your soul does not guarantee you exemption from all trials and obstacles in this earthly life. But it does fill you with the hope that only He can give to keep living this side of Paradise.

You don’t have to be Zacchaeus to go out on a limb and see if the view doesn’t change your perspective. But you can expect GOD to call you out on that faith.

Just remember to straighten up that crown before you set out the door.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NET

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary

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