83 feet. That is how much water was above my head yesterday morning—83 feet. As I sat there at the very bottom of the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, the panic began to set in just a bit when I realized just how much water was above my head. Looking up, I felt incredibly small and in many ways, completely out of control. If that scuba rig I was wearing malfunctioned, there would have been very few options for how to escape alive. I could feel the pressure of all that water coming down on my shoulders, and I felt small and powerless.
I imagine that was something like the feeling that Zaccheus must have had as he climbed that tree overlooking Jesus. The crowds pushing in around him, reminding him of how small he was. Not to mention, the powerful figure of Jesus that he was straining to see. Not only that, but we know that Zaccheus was not well thought of by all those around him, and they looked upon him with disdain. Looked down on him, literally and figuratively.
I imagine all of us have had that feeling of being small. I imagine we have all had moments where the world was overwhelming, and we could quite see ahead of ourselves—moments where we seem to fade into the cacophony around us. It is not necessarily a good feeling. Perhaps it is that moment where you have made a foolish mistake, and you know it, and someone is laying in to you for your blunder. Perhaps it is that moment where you see the mountain of things to do in front of you, the small time to do them, and the overwhelming sense of dread that sets in. Perhaps it is in facing the massive problems we see in the world around us, and not having the first clue about where to start. Feeling small is something to which we can all relate.
This is where Christ came into the picture for Zaccheus. As he clung to those branches of the sycamore tree, surrounded by the crowds that reminded him of his insignificance, Christ steps forward to remind him that even he has something important to offer. Dinner. Fellowship. A table to share with Jesus himself.
As I sat at the bottom of that clear blue spring looking up in panic. I realized that the only real choice I had in that moment was to take a few deep breaths, say a prayer to Jesus, and start my slow journey back to the top.
The thing is, when we have felt our smallest, and yet have overcome the trials and tribulations that lay before us, we come out the other side knowing that with God, all things are possible. Notice the gratitude that Zaccheus expresses at after Jesus helps him grow a few inches. Life has changed. When I finally broke the surface of the blue hole, I felt invigorated—and grateful to be alive! It is that feeling that is so very important, and such a great source of power in our lives.
If you look at the story of scripture, God seems to do this again and again. God chooses the little guys, so that on the other side of the massive challenges, there is a feeling of elation. Those little guys are changed, become heroes of the faith, contribute to the great story. This is also something that transforms people into givers. Once we have overcome something tremendous, we usually are filled with a desire to help others do the same.
83 feet of water is a lot. However, it is not near as much as I used to think it was, and it is not near as much as some people face. Overcoming the panic that I felt under those 83 feet though, makes me feel alive and grateful in a way that I want to share with others. Where have you felt small? Where has God helped you grow? How have you passed on that gratefulness to God to others?