Pictures below are © Henry Martin.
Free use for ministry purposes. Not to be used for publication or profit.
"Aaaaaaaahh, Aaaahaaaaahh." It was half term holiday and Dan was doing his Tarzan impression in the tree house which he and his friends had made in the small wood near his house. The problem with a tree house is once you have made it everyone else wants to use it too!
"Get out of my tree house!" Dan yelled when he saw three younger boys trying to play in it. After all why should he let them enjoy it when he and his friends had built it?
Dan used to sit in the tree house with Joseph and William pretending they were in the heart of Africa surrounded by wild animals. It was a shame they could see the back of the sweet shop from where they were sitting as it did spoil the effect a bit! But come what may, they were going to defend their tree house from all attackers.... unless of course they were bigger and stronger! The good thing was that most of the older boys used to hang out in the park where Dan played football so their tree house was pretty safe.
When Dan arrived at the tree house one day after his tea, he could tell there had been visitors. Their treasure store had been stolen. OK, so their “treasure” was only a few bits of metal but to them it was the remains of an alien space ship which had crash landed, although they were yet to find the alien survivors. It did cross Dan's mind that the visitors to the tree house could have been the aliens trying to retrieve the missing pieces of their space ship but he decided that was pretty unlikely! After all the visitors had left some chewing gum wrappers with price stickers from the local sweet shop. It would be pretty difficult for aliens to get past the sweet shop owner, Mr Jones, without him noticing a green ugly creature. Although thinking about it, he did serve Dan's sister Suzie without too much problem!
Dan decided to make it a bit more difficult to get into the tree which would, he hoped keep the younger boys out. The tree house was already quite high up but Dan managed to break off a few branches below him with his feet so it would be even more difficult to get up. He kicked and twisted and pulled until the branches fell to the ground.
However there was one major problem with Dan's plan. It was certainly more difficult to get up to the tree house but it was now impossible to get down. Talk about “burning your bridges”, Dan was stuck! He didn't want to risk jumping more than twenty feet to the ground below. He had already had a broken leg in the past and didn't fancy another one.
As he sat there stranded in the tree he thought about school that week and the assembly Mr Cresswell had given. He had told them about Zacchaeus in the Bible and how he had done some tree climbing too.
His mind wandered as he lay back in the tree house trying to work out how he was going to get down. What had Zacchaeus done? He remembered why Zacchaeus had climbed the tree in the first place. It was because he was pretty unpopular with the people in his town. Mr Cresswell had said that not only was Zacchaeus a tax collector, not a very popular job, he was also collecting extra money for himself, Zac Tax. This made Zacchaeus very unpopular indeed.
Dan’s day dream was interrupted by the sound of voices. Help at last? But when he looked down, it was the younger boys, the same ones he had chased away from the tree house a few days earlier. Dan was a bit embarrassed to ask for help, after all it wasn't that 'cool' to be stuck in your own tree house!
When he did eventually ask then to try and find Joseph for him, they just laughed and walked off and I suppose in one way Dan deserved it.
Dan couldn't help thinking it was a bit like Zacchaeus with his problem. He wanted to see Jesus but because of the way he had treated everyone else no one wanted to let Zacchaeus go to the front of the crowd and as Zacchaeus was short as well, up a tree is where he needed to be if he wanted a glimpse of Jesus.
Then Dan heard another noise. This time it was girls’ voices. Oh, no it was “the green aliens”, his sister Suzie and her three friends. Dan felt really embarrassed now. Now he knew how Zacchaeus must have felt when Jesus and all the others had seen him up the tree.
How could he admit to his little sister that he was stuck? He would never live it down but he had no option. He didn't fancy being stuck up the tree all night.
He tried to sound 'cool' as he shouted down to his sister, "Hi Suzie."
"What's wrong little brother? Stuck are we?" She said.
Dan wasn't going to admit that to his little sister. Zacchaeus may have been short but Dan felt about a metre shorter as he tried to think of what to say to his sister, as her friends started to giggle. "Can you ask Dad to give me a hand please, Suzie?" Unfortunately for Dan that was a bit of a give away. Saying "please" to his sister was a pretty rare occurrence.
Suzanne and her three friends ran off towards the house chanting "Dan's stuck up a tree-ee, Dan's stuck up a tree-ee!"
Dan sat back in the tree house and wished an alien spaceship would come and take him to a far flung planet. He knew that his sister would never let him forget this day. Then Dan remembered Zacchaeus and how Jesus, in front of everyone, had asked him to come down and had invited himself to Zacchaeus house for tea! Zacchaeus may not have been stuck but he was probably pretty embarrassed, even if he was pleased to have Jesus as a guest.
Dan remembered how the people were not too pleased with Jesus, going off to have dinner with a thief like Zacchaeus. But that was typical of Jesus. He wasn't as concerned about what people thought about him, as he was about helping people like Zacchaeus who needed it. Dan thought to about the change that Jesus’ visit had made in Zacchaeus life. Zacchaeus had promised Jesus and all the people that he was going to give back all that he had stolen and that he was going to give half his money to the poor. Now that was real change!
Dan looked round at the tree house. How stupid he had been in not wanting anyone else to share it. After all it wasn’t even his tree!
Pretty soon Dan's Dad arrived with a ladder. Dan tried to play it down saying he had hurt his leg a bit and that was why he was stuck.. His Dad just smiled and said nothing. Suzie, who had returned to watch the fun, continued to chant "Dan's stuck up the tree-ee!" Dan felt like pulling the tree up by the roots and putting it in her mouth sideways but he had to admit, to himself at least, that without her help he might have been stuck up there all night.
Later as Dan lay in his bed, he thought of how silly he had been. This had been a 'not so Amazing Discovery' but he had learned a lesson. What had Jesus said to Zacchaeus and all the people? "Today salvation has come to this house." Dan had needed saving from his tree house, but he also needed to be reminded that he needed God's help in his life to learn how to let others share the things which, after all, God had given him in the first place.
Zacchaeus had needed Jesus’ help to come out of the tree and Jesus had changed his life and Dan too had learned a lesson about coming down a level or two and changing the way that he thought about others, even “green aliens” or did he mean sisters!
Copyright Steve Harris