Friends, the plot thickens.
Here’s a recap if you’d like to catch up.
It’s been an interesting 3 weeks since the crack made its way into my heart (it’s an apt metaphor). At first, I wondered how I’d live with it. How do you live with a gaping hole in your heart? How do you fix it? I know the Japanese powder gold and use it to repair broken porcelain, Kintsugi they call it, but does that work with human hearts? These have been the thoughts flooding my mind.
Like I said in my last post, I know God is looking for rain. I know that too well.
I crawled back into the arms of God in 2012 feeling like a dry and thirsty land so all I ever did was pray for spiritual rain to flood my soul. I wanted to be refreshed and to forget the familiar ache of being parched. I wanted to forget the feeling of longing for rain that (seemed like it) would never come.
And that year, like a sign meant solely for me, news flooded every TV station about the aquifers of water discovered in Turkana. I remember gasping at the time because a few short months earlier, we discovered that the cracked soil was full of oil. I marveled at how God first gave Turkana a gift, then the promise. Oil was the gift they never thought to ask for. But water was what they needed, what they always prayed for.
This vision stuck on me and felt like the metaphor for my life at the time.
“He will give a gift, but look out for the promise,” it seemed to say. I remember thinking how even deserts have seeds and we like them are in need of water. And oh how I longed to turn ocean! Because when you think about it, isn’t the ocean a desert that drowned?
Lately, I find myself in a similar position only this time, I feel like Samson looking for the sweetness of God in the dead things (Judges 14:5-9). I’m looking for the gold dust to blow over my wounds in the wilderness hollow. I have asked. God has answered ever so silently. Yes, He is good, and if silent (oh, how it has felt so), I suppose He has answered in a foreign tongue. But He has done it. All that’s left now is to seek then knock. Like Gideon (Judges 5:12-14), my might is in my questions. And I am well armed.
The question – Can God be found?
I’ve been unable to sleep for over a month now. I’d always say my eyes are open but I’d still feel rested by the following morning. It has perplexed me. Even after I’d pray, I’d still remain wide awake. One night 5 days ago in a sleepy wide awake haze, I heard Luke 19 in my spirit and knew I should read it. 3 days later, on another restful insomnia bout as the arsenal of my questions flooded my mind, a question lingered in my mind and I remembered the scripture, Luke 19, that was whispered to me in the dark.
vs 1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
I found it funny that Jesus could pass through Jericho because its walls came down never to be built again in Joshua’s days.
It’s easy to miss, but Jericho was a fortified city (much like our hearts) that kept in as much as it kept out. When the Israelite’s praised and worshiped around the city for seven days under the leadership of Joshua, its walls came down and it was said that Jericho’s walls and its foundations would never be built again.
Like I said, it’s easy to miss. But in walked Jesus. And He was passing through on assignment.
vs 2-4 And there was a man called Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector [a superintendent to whom others reported], and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, but he could not see because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran on ahead [of the crowd] and climbed up in a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.
Zaccheus having heard Jesus was good but not knowing just how or who Jesus was went up higher. Nay. I went ahead of myself. Because he couldn’t see Jesus, Zaccheus ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree because Jesus was about to pass that way.
Sycamore trees (also known as fig trees or mugumo trees) can grow as high as 20 metres. They are sturdy and deeply rooted (unshaken even by elephant strength) and produce an abundance of fruit because flowering and fruiting occurs year round on its branchlets. This made the sycamore fig tree of value to the poor for its shade and year round fruit.
Have you ever read the scripture where Jesus cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-19)? I used to overspiritualize it but I get it now. Jesus wasn’t being unreasonable. He expected it to do what it was made to do and that’s to have year long fruit. But the tree only had leaves. I’d have a little more than huffed too.
You see, the fig tree did not produce fruit so even that which it had (the ability to do so and stay alive) was taken away from it. Deeper insight to this can be seen in the parable of the talents that Jesus shares when he tabernacled with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:26) Yo! Selah!
Also, how apt that Zaccheus was on a fig tree? A tree of abundance that was created to provide shade and food for the poor is probably how Jesus saw him. Zaccheus climbing the tree was him entering a higher dimension of his true self though he did not know it. At the time, he was a tax collector taking more than was due from the poor and hardworking and Jesus came and changed everything. His presence gave him the freedom to be a living sycamore fig tree.This is the way of abundance - to be shade for the weary and bear year-round fruit for the poor and hungry. Click To Tweet
Did you know that the hebrew word for a sycamore is Shikmah meaning shoulder blades or scapula? The shoulder blades are very significant because they attach the arms to the body. And you know how necessary arms are. They are for the givers not just the takers.
Figs are the giving tree. If you’ve always wondered what that storybook was all about, I think I just figured it out. Get it? Fig-ured it out? It’s a lame joke, I know. But my husband will probably crack up and high five me when he reads it 🙂 Hey boo!
So yeah, like I said, fig trees are the giving tree. And Jesus saw Zaccheus as arms in His kingdom. Arms in the body of Christ.
Also, don’t you just love how Zaccheus knew to run ahead because Jesus would walk that way? Oh Zaccheus! Before seeing Him, see how you already knew the move of God?
vs 5-6 When Jesus reached the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So Zaccheus hurried and came down, and welcomed Jesus with joy.
All Zaccheus wanted was to see Jesus but what he got was a night with Jesus. Remember Jesus was passing through Jericho but he chose to stay with Zaccheus.
Seek and you shall find.
Seek and He will not just be found, He will remain.
Seek and your joy will be full.
This is why the Word of God moved into our neighbourhood.
This is why He abides.
The 2nd brush of gold dust & the bus encounter
I spent the rest of that Friday night glowing in all this. The night began with questions about how God speaks when you’re going through difficult situations and the question, “If He doesn’t speak, then can He be found?” And I have found the answer to that.
Ours is to learn the foreign tongue God is speaking in our new season and to know that not only can he be found, but He longs to remain, not just for a while. He desires to abide. He desires to become a neighbour within and without. It’s His name. It’s His nature.
On Sunday morning, I struggled to wake up with the aftermath of a Saturday function wearing me. But I kept a slow restful pace. I cracked open a book, read it slow and boiled water for tea. I took a shower and prepared to head to church, something that proved difficult because there were gaps in my life I feared to explain when asked. Still I went.
As I sat in the bus, oblivious to all else yet still, a lady with a baby strapped on her back walked in. She chose to sit opposite me and while unstrapping her baby, she said, “Please hold my baby as I untie her from my back,” and mid-sentence, her child was in my arms. It was not a request and it caught me by surprise.
As she sat down expecting me to hand her back her child, my hands became sticky and magnetic. I can’t explain it, but I couldn’t let go. We didn’t exchange words but she understood. Her baby remained sound asleep and she allowed me to hold him the whole ride through. She seemed relieved to get some help. And I, like Moses, seemed to have turned away and found myself on holy ground carrying a stranger’s baby on the bus. How the sweetness and richness of that moment lingered and left my face shinning. How baby breath and the quiet and ever so slight jerks and whimpers of a sleeping baby felt like sacrament. There was the gift.
It took all of me not to cry in that moment because the waterworks would have followed me to church. But the tears swelled and danced like waves in my eyes. As I gathered myself, I closed the window next to me. I ensured that the baby was as comfortable as could be and my heart found its rhythm again.
As I neared my stop, I handed the lady her son and offered to pay her bus fare.
“Kweli? (Really?),” she responded, smiling one of those smiles that a person who is mostly invisible gives when they realize that they are seen.
“Nishalipa, lakini asante (I’ve already payed but thank you),” she responded.
I smiled back and thought of the kindness of conductors. He probably allowed her on the bus with whatever she had – a quiet gesture of love and reverence to a mother traveling alone. I made a note to notice such noble ones in places great and small and said my goodbyes to her.
As I walked to church, I still willed away the tears but I wondered. What kismet was this that meticulously purposed a weary mother and a leaking heart to sit side by side and heal concurrently? For her, to believe again in the goodness of humanity and that help was always near and for me to see the sweetness of God in the dead of wilderness heat?
He spoke to me this morning in a foreign tongue and I understood what He said ever so clearly. The sermon was preached even before I set foot in church.
And my answer to the premise that led me through all these stories is yes. God is good. And yes, He can be found.
I found Him on a bus on a chilly morning on my way to church carrying a stranger’s baby. And you know what? He remained. Even now, I can feel Him abide. And I patiently await the promise.