Dear Younger Me:
When you look back on your life, at first you are going to think that the day when those four idiots hang the “S” word on you, is the first link in a chain of grace that stretches away to the sycamore tree five hundred steps beyond the walls of Jericho, but you will come to realize that this isn’t true. Yahweh is much more subtle than you can imagine.
Take your Mama for instance. Her name is Hannah. You do know what Hannah means, right Zacchaeus? It means “grace.” You don’t understand it now, and you won’t for a long time, but you will come to see that Yahweh was after you through Hannah Charis [which is what you will come to call her when you finally understand, Charis being Greek for “grace”]. She seemed to speak about nothing else except Yahweh and his love for you, Zacchaeus; after all you were, sadly, her only child. All her hopes and dreams for the future rested on you. You would listen to her talk about Yahweh when you were young, but then, like your father, you wouldn’t listen to her any more. You’ll regret that in the future, but that too is a link in the chain of grace that Yahweh is stretching out over your life.
Then there is your father, also named Zacchaeus. He will love money. He will earn [well technically most of it will be stolen] lots of money. He will use money as a crutch and a bludgeon. It will become his lover and comfort, and from him you will receive your ability to take a little money and turn it into much money. He will not be a worshiper of Yahweh and will steadfastly resist Hannah Charis’ pleas to instruct you in the Torah, or at least allow the rabbi to do so. He will refuse, saying that all a man needs to be a success in life is to know how to make money. He will teach you that, and you will make money, more money than you could ever imagine. Indeed, he was just a local tax-collector, but through determination, skill, and some money placed in the correct hands at the appropriate moment, you will become the chief tax-collector of the whole district. Sure the people will hate you because you make all of your wealth off of them, but you won’t care, you already hate them. All of them. They use the “S” word behind your back, even when you become the chief tax-collector.
Here’s the thing. You needed to have that particular father, because that is the broken road down which you will stumble upon grace, and without him, who knows where you would have ended up. Yahweh lays down the strangest paths for us to walk in order to find him. You will come to understand that someday.
Then there is Jericho. The city of your birth. Situated on the plains surrounding the Jordan and laying in the crossroads of many trade routes that run to the north, south, east, and west. It is a rich city because of all the trade that runs through it and you will become wealthy as you direct taxes to be collected from anyone and everyone. It will have a sycamore tree lying just outside the city walls and that tree has to be there because you are going to climb into that tree in the future, trying to see this guy about whom everyone is talking, and he is going to speak to you, and nothing will ever be the same again.
You’re going to have to climb into that sycamore tree because you are too short to see Yeshua due to all the crowds. Too short. Shorty. It will take awhile after that day to understand, but you will eventually realize that the nickname that you absolutely loathe, that sparked the course upon which your whole life is built, that makes you cringe when you hear it; that physical characteristic which you see as a curse and would pay all of your money to change, it’s a gift of grace.