I have played hide-and-seek with many children over the years. While older children understand the object of the game…when you are hiding, you try to not be found by the person doing the seeking, younger children view the game differently. In fact, younger children don’t seem to understand the point of the game at all. The biggest thrill for the hiding younger child is to be found.
Most of the time, when younger children are “hiding”, they giggle and talk, awaiting the exciting moment of being discovered by the seeker. And then, when the seeker finally uncovers their hiding place, they erupt in giggles and squeals of delight…they revel in being found.
One of my favorite Bible stories found in Luke 19, is about a man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a Jewish man who had exchanged the honor of his heritage for employment with the Roman government; a government that was oppressing his people. Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the Romans.
Zacchaeus was not just any tax collector, he was the chief tax collector, the man responsible for gathering all of the taxes in the region of Judea, with tax collectors of lesser rank working under him.
It seemed the trade-off was worth it to Zacchaeus. He liked being rich. And, Zacchaeus didn’t seem to mind being the object of contempt and disdain of his fellow countrymen.
But maybe the money couldn’t fill up the empty places deep within Zacchaeus. Maybe the lack of friends left him wanting; wanting something that a nice house and gold coins couldn’t satisfy.
As the story goes, the tax collector heard one day that Jesus would be passing through his town of Jericho. Zacchaeus wanted to see this Jesus whom he had heard so much about.
Crowds of people were everywhere trying to get a look at Jesus; there was no way that a person of shorter stature, like Zacchaeus, stood a chance at getting a glimpse of Jesus. Zacchaeus had an idea; he would run ahead of the crowds and climb up a sycamore tree that was beside the road.
It seemed a ridiculous idea for a man of his position to risk the humiliation that climbing a tree might bring if he were discovered. The people would surely mock him. But Zacchaeus just had to see this Jesus for himself.
Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed the tree. He stayed silent as he watched the crowd approach with Jesus in the center of the throng. He caught a glimpse of the Rabbi. The Rabbi’s steps came to a halt right underneath the tree. Jesus looked up and into the eyes of the tax collector. Jesus spoke and called him by name, “Zacchaeus! You must come down from the tree quickly because I am on my way to your house. I thought we would have a visit today.”
The surprised tax collector did just as Jesus told him. With great excitement and delight the chief tax collector escorted Jesus to his home.
We’re not told what the two men talked about that day. But we are told that their conversation wrought a change in Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus wanted to make restitution for all the money he had wrongly taken from his fellow citizens. Zacchaeus also wanted to give of his wealth to the poor.
On a day that Zacchaeus thought he would simply be a bystander in the crowd when Jesus came to town, he ended up playing host for the Rabbi. Zacchaeus gained a friend who changed his life forever. When Zacchaeus climbed up into that tree seeking to see, he did not know that it would lead to him being found by a loving Savior.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.