His response was always the same. "Preacher, you don't want me coming into that church. Lightening will strike if I come in." And then he would nervously chuckle.
Well, one evening he actually did come in briefly but didn't stay - returning to his usual spot which was, sadly, only twenty feet away from a new life.
I am not sure all the regrets and obstacles in his life that were fooling him into believing that change was not possible - or who convinced him that Jesus didn't want him. But those strongholds were in control keeping him from a life full of hope and new beginnings. He soon moved away and we lost touch.
Zacchaeus, written about in Luke 19, was also a man full of regrets and obstacles. He had chosen a path full of corruption and greed - a lifestyle that forsook his namesake which meant "pure or righteous." But in the midst of his bad decisions, he made a bold decision - one that changed his life forever. He decided to draw near to Jesus. Even with the obstacle of a crowd keeping him away, he got creative, pushing past the obstacle, and climbed a tree. And that little bit of effort put events in motion that saved his life.
We are in love with excuses. We not only keep a menu list of them readily available but we add more on a regular basis. We get drunk on excuses - enjoying the mind-altering buzz they provide us. Excuses keep us from confronting the truth of our short-comings and dealing honestly with them. And then we wake the next day to do it again.
Zacchaeus had his regrets turned into redemption. And so can we. He pushed through obstacles and said "yes" when Jesus called his name. And so can we. He decided to no longer only watch Jesus from afar. He left his usual spot and came "across the street." And so can we.
Fall out of love with excuses. Get unstuck. All of us are only a few feet away from the start of a new life.