CLIMBING TO SEE
“Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.”
My middle child, son Jonathan, has always been a climber. In our family we often say that Jonathan could climb before he could walk, which is literally true. His penchant for climbing has provided us with quite a few interesting experiences, one of the most memorable of which occurred on Thanksgiving Day 1984.
At the time the Ring’s were living in El Paso, Texas. Leaving our one-year-old daughter with a babysitter, the rest of the family, four of us, went to view the Sun Bowl Parade down Montana Avenue through downtown El Paso. Standing there in a crowd of 40 to 50 thousand people lining the street, we watched the floats go by, appropriately “oohing and aahing” at the fascinating shapes and designs.
I was totally enthralled by it all when a man standing nearby tapped me on the shoulder to get my attention. “Mister, aren’t you worried about your kid?” he asked. With that, he pointed upward. There, 30 feet above the street level, four-year-old Jonathan was calmly seated on the very top of a telephone pole, gleefully watching the floats go by. He’d found himself the best observation spot in the entire area.
I suppose many parents might have panicked to suddenly discover that their child had climbed a telephone pole, but from frequent experience I already knew Jonathan’s excellent climbing abilities. I also knew that scaring him by yelling at him would be counterproductive. So I just calmly looked up and said, “Jonathan, come on down.” By this time 1,000 folks had noticed this little boy perched high above them; nobody on that block was watching the parade anymore, all eyes were on Jonathan. When I told him to come down, he protested, “Do I have to? I can’t see through all the big people down there!” “Yes, Jon, you need to come down.” With that, he began climbing down, reaching the ground in just a few seconds. Everyone around breathed a sigh of relief.
In the New Testament of the Holy Bible, there’s a fascinating story about a man named Zacchaeus who, although he was “small of stature,” wanted to see Jesus. But a crowd had gathered around Jesus, and Zacchaeus, like my son Jonathan trying to watch the Sun Bowl parade at age four, couldn’t see through all those big people. So Zacchaeus climbed a nearby tree and thereby got to see Jesus. Even better, Jesus saw him, and rewarded him for his special effort by visiting his house and bringing him into the Kingdom of God.
Climbing out of the crowd, for Zacchaeus, was a very wise move. Do you also need to separate yourself from the crowd -- in order to see Jesus more clearly?
Lord, help me to climb above the crowd of the world around me in order to more clearly see you. Allow me to view your will for me – and to continue to “walk tall” in the ways you lead. Amen.
--Excerpted from Dr. Dave Ring’s 2019 published devotional book,