Yesterday, my wife and I went on a date. We decided to see a movie, and after we were seated in the theater, I went to get some popcorn. I stood in line and listened, as behind me two ladies talked.
They talked about their children. One of them was having trouble with her teenage son. He was keeping late hours and wouldn’t tell her where he was. Money was a problem, she said, and going to movies was a rare form of recreation. She was glad to be with her friend and “away from things” for a while. I didn’t turn around to see her face, but her voice sounded pressed, serious, and burdened.
The other woman had two children — a little girl and a younger son who kept telling his mother to “hurry it up, will ya?” There was no mention of a husband, so I guessed she was a single mom. She did mention not having enough money to make the rent payment next week. She didn’t know what she was going to do. Her boss was really giving her a hard time, and if she didn’t need the job so badly, she’d quit.
The women remarked several times how slowly the line was moving. “Why don’t they hire some more help?” one of them said. They looked around me toward the front of the line and wished out loud that “the movie would start, so all these people would go inside and sit down. Then we’d be in the front of the line.”
I felt sad for those two ladies. I could hear the weariness in these voices. When would the hard part be over? How much longer until things smoothed out and life got easier?
They hoped for a respite. They longed for a shorter line. And I just stood and listened as we inched our way forward.
The desire to be in the front of the line seems to be a common theme for us human beings, doesn’t it? We have a natural proclivity for forming lines, and all of us hope to get a spot close to the front. That must be why God mentioned the little guy in the back.
He couldn’t see. He was short, and even on his tiptoes, he couldn’t see over the heads of all those people standing in front of him. The line of people crowding in to see Jesus was long and deep. Like fans watching a celebrity, hoping to get an autograph, they pushed and shoved their way to the front of the line. But life had handed the unnoticed man an abbreviated frame; small, short, and unable to see over the crowd.
I’ll bet it was quite a sight, watching a grown man shinny up a sycamore tree in broad daylight. He couldn’t see, and rather than miss out on the parade of the century, he climbed a tree.
We know the end of the story, of course. We know that Jesus saw Zaccheus perched in that sycamore tree. We know that the Lord invited Himself to his house for a bite to eat.
But wouldn’t it have been great if someone had noticed the little guy standing in the back of the crowd —trying desperately to catch a glimpse of God in the flesh? I wonder what would have happened if someone standing in the front row had said, “Here, my friend. You’re having trouble seeing way back there, so I’ll move over. Take my spot. I don’t want you to miss seeing Jesus walk by.”
I wonder what those ladies would have thought if I’d of said, “Excuse me, gals, but I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. Why don’t you take my spot in the line? I can wait another few minutes. I don’t want you to miss the show because you’re waiting in the back of the line. Oh, and here’s my card. Give a call next week. I’d like to give you a hand with next month’s rent and try to encourage you about your kids.”
It’s true that God sees us wherever we are and knows exactly what we need, even when we feel like we’re at the end of our rope, or the last one in line. But I think He longs for His people to notice the bedraggled ones in the back. We who are light in this dark world need to penetrate that darkness as we extend a hand of hope, because the circumstances of life can make it difficult for someone at their wits end … to catch a glimpse of Jesus as He walks by.