Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lent - growing spiritually taller (Luke 19:3)

SCRIPTURE: Luke 19:3 (TM) – larger reading Luke 19:1-10
He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way - he was a short man and couldn't see over the crowd.

From the book of lists:
Alexander Pope, English poet 4'6"

Olga Korbut, Soviet gymnast 4'11"

Dolly Parton, U.S. Singer 5'

Victoria, British queen 5'

John Keats, English poet 5'3/4"

Debbie Reynolds, U.S. actress 5'1"

St. Francis of Assisi, Italian saint 5'1"

Yuri Gagarin, Soviet cosmonaut 5'2"

Margaret Mead, U.S. anthropologist 5'2"

Nikita Khrushechev, Soviet leader 5'3"

Micky Rooney, U.S. actor 5'3"

Voltaire, French writer 5'3"

James Madison, U.S. president 5'4"

Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer 5'4"

Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter 5'4"

Haile Selassie, Ethopian emperor 5'4"

George "Baby Face" Nelson, U.S. gangster 5'4 3/4"

Hirohito, Japanese emperor 5'5"

Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping tycoon 5'5"

Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor 5'6"

Joseph Stalin, Soviet political leader 5'6"

Tutankhamen, Egyptian king 5'6"

I’m 6’3” so I am not always sensitive to those with height issues. I met up with a former youth and his family last year. His son and daughter’s comment about me was, “He is tall!” I am not aware how I appear to others. Sometime ago I was walking next to my nephew Todd Martin, the tennis pro, who is 6’6” – just three inches taller than me, but for the first time in my life I felt small.

When I ran across the list above I was impressed with the list of short people and what they accomplished (positively or negatively) in the world. It is not the stature that makes a person, but their inner strength… their courage… their drive. 

Such was the case with Zacchaeus. My best guess is that you grew up singing the Vacation Bible School song:
Zacchaeus was a wee little man

And 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 that way

He looked up in that tree

And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down!

For I’m going to your house today

For I’m going to your house to stay”

A fellow clergy preached Sunday on aptitude. It reminded me of the old commencement catch phrase a couple of years ago: It is not aptitude, but attitude that determines altitude. And so it goes with our spiritual walk.

We can have the best of intensions, but lack the proper attitude and we will miss achieving anything. We can allow the negative of our stature – either short or tall – to drag us down the slippery slope of littleness in all things spiritual. Every pastor has witnessed men and women who appear on the surface to have a great faith until certain life issues raise their ugly head and everyone discovers just how small they really are.

Or we can climb the tree. We can try harder. We think positively about all matters. We can reset our attitude and embrace the courage to grow spiritually instead of finding reasons or excuses for the life we are living. One way we grow great in spiritual stature, the other way we continue to diminish in size regardless of how tall we might be.

Let’s go tree climbing with the likes of Zacchaeus!


Help me to grow not in physical height, but in spiritual stature become the person you have created me to become.

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