with reference to the story of Zacchaeus: Luke 19:1-9
I sang a song once—a short pensive piece from Samuel Barber’s Vanessa. “Must the winter come so soon? …It is a long winter here,” it intoned about the harsh Siberian clime. Huh. Not just in Siberia, it seems—a long winter here, too, of the garden and of the heart. Snowy December delight turns to slushy March-April groaning. “Again?! we whine as yet more flakes fall, and we wait impatiently for our souls and our hands to thaw in warm spring sunshine.
And then it happens. During lunch, ice covers two thirds of the pond. By dinner time there is no ice in sight, and a short hour later, two pairs of ducks swim happily in the wind-driven water. I never knew ice thawed so quickly.
Do hearts thaw as fast as ponds?
Yes, if Zacchaeus is any indication. He climbs a tree just to see Jesus walk into town and five minutes later he’s having dinner with Jesus and paying back all that he stole, and more.
That isn’t just a thaw, that’s a meltdown.
Like Zacchaeus, we climb the tree, anticipating spring, hoping for Jesus’ liberating grace to free our hearts. We don’t know what His sunshine-y grace will bring; we only know we can’t bear another snowstorm.
But this thaw, this meltdown into spring, has its dangers. If Zacchaeus had known the change that Jesus would inspire, would he have climbed that tree?
Take care, I remind my soul as I dangle on an overhanging branch of Zacchaeus’ tree, almost close enough to reach down and touch Jesus passing by. ‘Take care,’ I warn my eager heart. ‘You know He will change more than the physical season. He always does. He doesn’t settle for smiling at the outcast, He joins him for dinner and moves into his heart. I know this Jesus. He’s dangerous. Give him an inch and He’ll take a mile, and you, my soul, won’t even know what happened.’
What’s worse, I know what July brings. Endless hot, searing humid days will fry my skin and wither my spring delight. Do I prefer the pressure and heat or the frost-bitten cold? Neither, I conclude, as I push the intruding cautions aside. For now, I greet spring in my backyard as well as in my heart, eagerly awaiting what Jesus brings.
Hearts and ponds, they thaw fast these days!