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CLIMBING THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY

LUKE 19:1-10

 

                 WHEN YOU TAKE A CAB IN TAIWAN THE LAW REQUIRES THAT EACH CAB DRIVER’S NAME BE POSTED IN A PROMINENT PLACE. I ALWAYS ENJOY LOOKING AT THESE NAMES. PARENTS OFTEN GIVE NAMES WHICH REPRESENT THE HOPE THESE PARENTS HAVE FOR THEIR CHILDREN. I’VE SEEN NAMES SUCH AS “COME GOOD FORTUNE,” OR “INTELLIGENT,” OR “THE COUNTRY’S BLESSING.” CHRISTIANS OFTEN ARE GIVEN NAMES LIKE “GOD’S GRACE,” OR “SPIRITUAL GIFT.” I OFTEN ASK THESE CAB DRIVERS IF THEIR NAMES REPRESENT THEIR PARENTS’ HOPES FOR THEM. THEY USUALLY SAY, “YOU COULD SAY THAT.” I THEN ASK THEM IF THEY THINK THEY HAVE ACHIEVED THEIR PARENTS’ HOPES. MOST REPLY IN TAIWANESE, “HARD TO SAY.”

                A BABY WAS BORN TO A JEWISH COUPLE. THEY EVIDENTLY HAD HOPE FOR THEIR CHILD FOR THEY GAVE HIM A SPECIAL NAME: ZACCHAEUS, WHICH MEANS PURE-OF-HEART. WHEN ZACCHAEUS’ PARENTS NAMED HIM, THEY HAD HOPE FOR HIM, AND THEY ALSO KNEW THAT GOD HAD A PROMISE FOR HIM.

                BUT WHEN HE GREW UP, ZACCHAEUS CERTAINLY WAS NOT PURE-OF-HEART. HE BECAME A TAX COLLECTOR, NOT JUST ANY OLD TAX COLLECTOR. HE BECAME A CHIEF TAX COLLECTOR. TAX COLLECTORS, ESPECIALLY CHIEF TAX COLLECTORS WERE CONSIDERED A SPECIAL CLASS OF SINNERS BY THE JEWISH PEOPLE.

                THE TAIWANESE HAVE A SPECIAL UNDERSTANDING OF THIS STORY BECAUSE LIKE THE ISRAEL OF ZACCHAEUS’ TIME, TAIWAN HAS ALSO BEEN AN OCCUPIED COUNTRY. FROM 1895 TO 1945, THE JAPANESE OCCUPIED TAIWAN AS THEY DID MANY ASIAN COUNTRIES. THE TAIWANESE COULD NOT DETERMINE THEIR FUTURE. MANY OF TAIWAN’S NATURAL RESOURCES INCLUDING THE WOOD FROM OLD-FOREST TREES WERE SHIPPED TO JAPAN. SOME TAIWANESE BECAME GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES OF THE OCCUPYING JAPANESE. THERE IS STORY OF TWO ABORIGINAL YOUNG MEN WHO BECAME JAPANESE POLICEMEN. THEIR OWN TRIBAL PEOPLE RESENTED THAT THESE YOUNG MEN STOOD WITH THE OCCUPIERS INSTEAD OF THEIR OWN TRIBE.

                IT WAS THE SAME WAY IN ZACCHAEUS’ TIME. HE WAS A JEW, BUT HE WORKED FOR THE ROMAN OCCUPIERS. WHILE ZACCHAEUS GOT RICHER, HIS JEWISH NEIGHBORS LABORED UNDER THE BURDEN OF ROMAN OCCUPATION. SOMETIMES IN ORDER TO COLLECT MORE MONEY FOR ROME AND FOR HIMSELF, ZACCHAEUS WOULD HAVE THE ROMAN TROOPS INVADE THE HOMES OF FELLOW NEIBHBORS. THE MORE TAXES HE COLLECTED FOR ROME, THE RICHER HE WOULD BECOME. HIS NEIGHBORS ALL KNEW THAT ZACCHAEUS SKIMMED A PORTION OFF THE TOP OF TAXES COLLECTED. ZACCHAEUS’ GOAL IN LIFE WAS TO GET RICH, AND LUKE TELLS US THAT HE WAS A RICH MAN. HE HAD REACHED HIS GOAL.

                ZACCHAEUS WAS RICH, BUT HE WAS ALSO POOR. HE HAD MONEY, NICE CLOTHES, A NICE HOUSE. BUT HE DIDN’T HAVE FRIENDS. HIS BANK ACCOUNT WAS FULL, BUT HIS HEART WAS EMPTY. HE WAS HUNGRY FOR MORE IN LIFE.

                I’VE SEEN IT MANY TIMES. A PERSON WORKS HARD TO FIND A GOOD JOB AND THEN WORKS LONG HOURS AT THE JOB. PERHAPS HE HAS LITTLE TIME TO SPEND WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. PERHAPS SHE DOESN’T THINK MUCH ABOUT GOD BECAUSE SHE IS TOO BUSY.

                BUT ZACCHAEUS KNOWS THAT THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE.

                SO WHEN ZACCHAEUS HEARS THAT A MAN BY THE NAME OF JESUS IS COMING TO HIS TOWN, HE WANTS TO SEE HIM. THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THIS MAN WHICH ATTRACTS ZACCHAEUS TO PUT HIS WORK ASIDE AND HEAD OUT TO THE STREET WITH HIS NEIGHBORS, WHO DESPISE HIM, TO WAIT TO SEE THIS MAN JESUS.

                BUT WE ALL KNOW THAT ZACCHAEUS HAS A PROBLEM. MANY OF US GREW UP SINGING THE SUNDAY SCHOOL SONG, “ZACCHAEUS WAS A WEE LITTLE MAN, A WEE LITTLE MAN WAS HE.” BUT AS YOU KNOW THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN GREEK, NOT ENGLISH. AND THE GREEK IS NOT CLEAR WHO IS SHORT. THE GREEK JUST SAYS, “HE WAS SHORT, SO ZACCHAEUS COULD NOT SEE.” IT IS NOT CLEAR IF ZACCHAEUS IS SHORT OR JESUS IS SHORT. BUT I GUESS ALL THESE YEARS WE HAVE ASSUMED THAT ZACCHAEUS IS SHORT, BECAUSE WE MAY NOT MUCH LIKE A SHORT JESUS.

                BUT WHOEVER IS SHORT, ZACCHAEUS HAS A PROBLEM. HE CANNOT SEE AND NO ONE WILL MOVE OVER TO ALLOW HIM TO SEE. HE HAS BEEN TERRIBLE TO HIS NEIGHBORS, SO THEY ARE NOT ABOUT TO GIVE UP THEIR PLACES FOR THIS MERCENARY TAX COLLECTOR.

                BUT ZACCHAEUS CANNOT BE STOPPED. HE WANTS TO SEE JESUS. HE IS THIRSTY FOR LIFE’S MEANING, FOR THE LIVING WATER.

                SO HE SEES A TREE. IN HIS NICE CLOTHES IN FRONT OF HIS NEIGHBORS, ZACCHAEUS DOES A VERY UNUSUAL THING. HE CLIMBS A TREE. I DON’T KNOW WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CLIMBED A TREE. PROBABLY WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG. BUT ZACCHAEUS HUNGERS TO SEE JESUS. SO HE CLIMBS A TREE AS AN ADULT.

                THIS TREE IS A TREE OF OPPORTUNITY. AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE GRACE.

                SO WHILE ALL OF ZACCHAEUS’ NEIGHBORS ARE STANDING BESIDE THE ROAD, ZACCHAEUS, THE CHIEF TAX COLLECTOR, IS SITTING IN A TREE WAITING FOR JESUS TO PASS BY. HE IS WAITING IN THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY.

                SUDDENLY JESUS APPEARS. THE ONE WHO LEFT HEAVEN TO LIVE AMONG US. THE ONE WHO EATS WITH US AND LAUGHS WITH US AND CRIES WITH US WALKS DOWN THE STREET IN THE MIDDLE OF ZACCHAEUS’ TOWN. ZACCHAEUS AND HIS NEIGHBORS SEE IN JESUS WHAT GOD’S LOVE LOOKS LIKE.

                MAYBE ZACCHAEUS’ HEART BEGINS TO BEAT FASTER.

                WHEN JESUS GETS TO THE TREE WHERE ZACCHAEUS IS SITTING, HE SUDDENLY LOOKS US UP AND HE CALLS ZACCHAEUS BY NAME. “ZACCHAEUS, HURRY AND COME TOWN FOR I MUST STAY AT YOUR HOUSE TODAY.” ZACCHAEUS IS AMAZED. HE KNOWS MY NAME. BUT IF HE KNOWS MY NAME, HE MUST ALSO KNOW MY PAST. AND HE STILL WANTS TO COME TO MY HOUSE.

                THE REST OF THE PEOPLE, HOWEVER, ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT JESUS’ CHOICE OF LUNCH COMPANIONS. THEY GRUMBLE ABOUT GRACE. “WHY IS JESUS GOING TO EAT AT THE HOME OF A SINNER?” THE PASTOR, ELDERS, DEACONS, SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS, DON’T SEE GRACE, THEY SEE UNFAIRNESS.

                BUT EVEN THE CHIEF TAX COLLECTOR HAS TO LISTEN TO JESUS. HE HAS TO COME DOWN FROM HIS HIGH SEAT. NOW IF YOU’VE CLIMBED TREES BEFORE, YOU KNOW THAT CLIMBING UP IS PRETTY EASY. COMING DOWN IS NOT SO EASY AND IT’S HARD TO BE GRACEFUL. TALK ABOUT PRESSURE, ZACCHAEUS HAS TO COME DOWN FROM THAT TREE IN FRONT OF HIS DISAPPROVING NEIGHBORS AND IN FRONT OF JESUS!

                WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF JESUS WAS COMING TO YOUR HOUSE TODAY TO SHARE A MEAL? MAYBE YOU WOULD HAVE BEGUN SEVERAL DAYS EARLIER CLEANING THE HOUSE. YOU WOULD SET THE TABLE WITH YOUR FINEST OR PERHAPS USE EVERYDAY PLATES IN ORDER TO LET JESUS KNOW THAT YOU DON’T LOVE THINGS TOO MUCH. YOU WOULD PROBABLY PREPARE YOUR BEST DISH FOR JESUS.

                BUT ZACCHAEUS HAS NO TIME TO PREPARE. JESUS IS COMING FOR DINNER. TODAY, RIGHT NOW! JESUS COMES AND SEES US JUST AS WE ARE. NOT THE FACE WE MAY LIKE TO PRESENT TO THE WORLD, BUT HE STILL COMES. THE AMAZING THING IS THAT JESUS WANTS TO BE WITH ZACCHAEUS. I DON’T KNOW THE STATE OF ZACCHAEUS’ HOUSE ON THAT SPECIAL DAY. I DON’T KNOW WHAT HE HAD IN HIS REFRIGERATOR TO GIVE JESUS TO EAT.

                I ONCE ASKED A TAIWANESE SEMINARY STUDENT WHEN HE HAD EXPERIENCED GRACE. HE TOLD ME THAT HE IS NOT A VERY NEAT PERSON. HE LIVES IN A SINGLE ROOM IN THE DORMITORY AT THE SEMINARY. AS THE SEMESTER PROGRESSES AND HE GETS BUSIER WITH HIS STUDIES AND WORK IN HIS FIELD EDUCATION CHURCH HIS ROOM BECOMES MORE CHAOTIC. ONE DAY A CLASSMATE KNOCKED ON HIS DOOR. HE OPENED THE DOOR JUST A CRACK SO THIS CLASSMATE COULD NOT SEE THE CHAOS INSIDE. HE ASKED THE CLASSMATE WHAT HE WANTED. HIS FRIEND REPLIED, “NOTHING SPECIAL, I’VE JUST STOPPED BY TO SEE YOU.” THE STUDENT TOLD HIS FRIEND THAT HIS ROOM WAS MESS AND IT WASN’T REALLY A CONVENIENT TIME FOR HIM TO COME IN. HIS FRIEND SAID, “I DIDN’T STOP BY TO SEE THE STATE OF YOUR ROOM. I’VE COME TO SEE YOU.” SO THE STUDENT OPENED HIS DOOR AND WELCOMED HIS FRIEND WHO WAS NOT THERE TO JUDGE HIS CLEANLINESS. HE EXPERIENCED THE GRACE OF JESUS THROUGH HIS FRIEND.

                JESUS COMES TO ZACCHAEUS’ HOUSE. HE SEES ZACCHAEUS JUST AS HE IS. AND ZACCHAEUS ALSO SEES HIMSELF JUST AS HE IS. HE LOOKS AT HIMSELF HONESTLY. HE SEES HIS SIN.   HE SEES HOW HE HAS CHEATED AND HURT HIS NEIGHBORS. BUT THE IMPORTANT THING IS HE SEES HIMSELF IN THE LIGHT OF JESUS’ GRACE.

                AND BECAUSE OF THAT GRACE, ZACCHAEUS REPENTS. HE TURNS FROM HIS OLD LIFE TO BEGIN A NEW LIFE. FOR THE FIRST TIME HE LIVES INTO THE REALITY OF HIS NAME’S MEANING: “PURE-OF-HEART.”

                HE SAYS TO JESUS, “I WILL GIVE HALF OF MY POSSESSIONS TO THE POOR. IF I HAVE CHEATED ANYONE, I WILL PAY BACK FOUR TIMES AS MUCH.

                VERY FEW OF MY FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES IN TAIWAN KNOW WHAT MY ENGLISH NAME IS. WHEN I FIRST GOT TO TAIWAN, I WAS GIVEN A MANDARIN NAME (MA YUEH-HAN). BUT A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, A FIRST-YEAR STUDENT TOOK ONE OF MY COURSES. WHEN I HEARD HIS NAME, I REGRETTED THAT MY MANDARIN NAME WAS NOT THE SAME AS HIS. HIS NAME IN MANDARIN IS “HSIN-PZAU” WHICH MEANS “NEW CREATION.” WHEN I HEARD HIS NAME, I SAID, “WHAT A GREAT NAME!” EVERY TIME SOMEONE CALLS HIS NAME, HE IS REMINDED WHO HE IS. HE IS A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST. ON THAT DAY IN ZACCHAEUS’ HOME, IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LIFE-GIVER, JESUS, ZACCHAEUS BECOMES A NEW CREATION.

                HE CLIMBS THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY AND IS CHANGED. EVERYONE OF US ARE NEW CREATURES IN CHRIST.

                CHRIST IS WAITING FOR US TO CLIMB THAT TREE OF OPPORUNTITY AND BECOME NEW CREATURES IN GRACE.

                ONCE I WAS EATING AT A RESTAURANT IN TAIPEI, THE CAPITAL OF TAIWAN. A WOMAN I DID NOT KNOW CAME UP TO MY TABLE WITH HER TEENAGE SON AND ASKED ME WHY I HAD COME TO TAIWAN. I AM OFTEN ASKED THAT QUESTION. IT’S A WONDERFUL WAY TO SHARE MY FAITH.

                I TOLD HER THAT GOD HAS LED ME TO TAIWAN. SHE REPLIED, “OH, YOU’RE A PASTOR?” I TOLD HER THAT I WAS. SHE ASKED ME WHERE THE CHURCH I SERVED WAS LOCATED. I TOLD HER THAT I DIDN’T SERVE ONE CHURCH BUT SERVED THROUGHOUT TAIWAN EACH WEEK. SHE REPLIED, “WOW, THAT’S VERY DIFFICULT.”

                BUT I TOLD HER THAT I DIDN’T FOCUS ON THE DIFFICULTY, BUT INSTEAD ON GRACE AND OPPORTUNITY.

                SHE AND HER SON THEN WENT TO ANOTHER TABLE TO EAT. AFTER THEY HAD EATEN, SHE CAME BACK TO MY TABLE AND ASKED IF SHE COULD TELL ME ONE MORE THING. I REPLIED, “SURE.”

                SHE TOLD ME THAT SHE HAS TWO CHILDREN. THIS SON IS HER SECOND CHILD. HER FIRST CHILD IS DAUGHTER WHO HAS BEEN BATTLING A FORM OF CANCER FOR TEN YEARS. SHE SAID, “EVERY TIME I RETURN HOME AND SEE MY DAUGHTER, I THINK HOW DIFFICULT OUR LIFE IS. BUT TODAY YOU SAID TWO IMPORTANT WORDS: GRACE AND OPPORUTNITY. SO TODAY WHEN I GO HOME AND SEE MY DAUGHTER I WILL FOCUS ON GRACE AND OPPORTUNITY.” THEY THEN LEFT.

                THAT TREE OF OPPORTUNITY IS STANDING IN FRONT OF EACH OF US.

                AS A MISSIONARY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, I HAVE A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO SEE TAIWANESE CHRISTIANS CLIMB THAT TREE.

                I’D LIKE TO SHARE JUST A FEW OF THOSE STORIES THIS MORNING.

                AN ABORIGINAL WOMAN HAD A QUARREL WITH HER PASTOR AND LEFT THE CHURCH. SHE STILL LIVED IN THE VILLAGE BUT NURSED HER WOUNDS AND ISOLATED HERSELF FROM THE COMMUNITY OF FAITH. A NEW CLERGY COUPLE CAME TO SERVE HER CHURCH, BUT SHE HAD ALREADY DISTANCED HERSELF FROM THE CHURCH’S LIFE.

                ONE DAY HER SON WAS KILLED IN AN ACCIDENT IN A CITY SEVERAL HOURS FROM HER VILLAGE. AT THAT TIME SHE BEGAN TO WEEP, NOT JUST FOR HER DEEP GRIEF, BUT ALSO BECAUSE SHE WONDERED WHAT SHE COULD DO ABOUT ARRANGING A FUNERAL SERVICE FOR HER SON. ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE VILLAGE, SHE WEPT. SHE KNEW THAT SHE NEEDED THE CHURCH TO HELP HER, BUT SHE FEARED SHE HAD ALREADY LEFT THE COMMUNITY OF FAITH.

                BUT THE CHURCH HEARD OF HER SON’S DEATH. THE TWO CHURCH PASTORS, THE ELDERS AND DEACONS ALL GATHERED AT HER DOOR WAITING FOR HER TO BRING THE BODY OF HER SON BACK HOME.

                WHEN SHE DROVE UP TO HER HOME AND SAW ALL THE CHURCH LEADERS GATHERED TO COMFORT HER, SHE BURST INTO TEARS. SHE APOLOGIZED TO THE PASTORS AND ELDERS, BUT THEY SURROUNDED HER AND BEGAN TO PRAY FOR HER.

                EVERY NIGHT BEFORE THE FUNERAL, A DIFFERENT GROUP FROM THE CHURCH WOULD GATHER AT HER HOUSE TO LEAD A SERVICE OF COMFORT AND HOPE. FOOD WAS BROUGHT AND ARRANGEMENTS WERE MADE TO HAVE THE SERVICE OF WITNESS TO THE RESURRECTION FOR HER SON.

                THE NEXT SUNDAY THIS MOTHER, HER HUSBAND, THEIR OTHER CHILDREN, AND HER PARENTS SAT ON THE FRONT ROW OF THE CHURCH. AT THE ANNOUNCEMENT TIME, HER FATHER STOOD TO THANK THE CHURCH FOR THEIR CARE. EVER SINCE THAT DAY, THAT FAMILY REMAINS ON THE FRONT ROW FOR WORSHIP. THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY. THE TREE OF GRACE.

                IN TAIWAN WHEN ONE IS IN AN ACCIDENT, OFTEN IT IS THE LARGER VEHICLE WHICH HAS TO PAY FOR DAMAGES, MEDICAL EXPENSES, AND LOSS OF SALARY DUE TO BEING AWAY FROM WORK DURING ONE’S REHABILITATION. EVEN IF A MOTOR SCOOTER DRIVER IS AT FAULT, THE DRIVER OF THE CAR IS WORRIED ABOUT WHAT THE ACCIDENT WILL COST HIM OR HER. SO AS SOON AS AN ACCIDENT OCCURS, THE DRIVER GOES OVER TO CHECK ON THE MOTOR SCOOTER DRIVER. A PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ELDER FROM ONE OF THE CHURCHES IN THE CITY OF TAIPEI WAS HIT BY A CAR. IT WAS THE CAR DRIVER’S FAULT. THE CHURCH ELDER PICKED UP HIS MOTOR SCOOTER AND CHECKED TO SEE IF IT WOULD STILL RUN. WHEN IT DID HE DUSTED OFF HIS TORN PANTS AND TOLD THE CAR DRIVER, THAT HE AND HIS SCOOTER WERE OK. THIS WAS SO COUNTER-CULTURAL WHEN MOST FOLKS WOULD BE CALCULATING HOW MUCH THEY CAN GET OUT OF THE ACCIDENT, THAT THE CAR DRIVER ASKED THE CHURCH ELDER, WHOM HE DID NOT KNOW IF HE WAS A CHRISTIAN. THE CHURCH ELDER SAID THAT HE WAS AND THEN DROVE AWAY. THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY. THE TREE OF GRACE.

                A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT WAS RIDING HIS BIKE HOME ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON AFTER CLASS. AT A RED LIGHT A CLASSMATE RODE UP AND WAITED ON HIS BIKE NEXT TO HIM. THE FIRST STUDENT ASKED THE SECOND STUDENT WHAT HE WAS DOING ON SATURDAY NIGHT. THAT IS WHEN TAIWANESE CHURCHES HAVE THEIR YOUTH GROUPS. THE SECOND STUDENT SAID THAT HE DIDN’T HAVE PLANS SO THE FIRST STUDENT INVITED THIS NON-CHRISTIAN FRIEND TO CHURCH. HE CAME THAT SATURDAY NIGHT AND LATER WAS BAPTIZED. THAT SECOND STUDENT AND THE ONE WHO INVITED HIM HAVE BOTH GRADUATED FROM SEMINARY AND ARE SERVING CHURCHES IN TAIWAN. THAT SECOND STUDENT INVITED HIS YOUNGER BROTHER TO CHURCH, AND HE LATER BECAME A CHRISTIAN.   WHEN I WENT TO THAT CHURCH SERVERAL YEARS LATER TO PREACH, I MET THE DRUMMER IN THE PRAISE BAND. HE TOLD ME THAT HE HAD JUST BEEN BAPTIZED. I ASKED HIM HOW HE CAME TO KNOW CHRIST, AND HE POINTED AT THE SECOND STUDENT’S YOUNGER BROTHER AND SAID, “HE INVITED ME TO THIS CHURCH, AND I CAME TO KNOW CHRIST.” ONE QUESTION AT A RED LIGHT AND THREE YOUNG MEN BECOME DISCIPLES OF JESUS. CLIMBING THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY.

                A FRIEND OF MINE FROM THE U.S. CAME TO VISIT ME IN TAIWAN. HE HAD BEEN SOMEWHAT INVOLVED IN HIS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT HOME, CUTTING THE CHURCH’S LAWN WITH HIS SON EACH WEEK DURING THE SUMMER AND ATTENDING WORSHIP. BUT SEVERAL YEARS AFTER HIS VISIT TO TAIWAN, I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO PREACH AT HIS CHURCH. I SAW THAT HE HAD BEEN ELECTED AN ELDER AND WAS LEADING A BIBLE STUDY FOR MEN. WHEN I ASKED HIM WHY HE HAD GOTTEN SO INVOLVED, HE REPLIED, “WHEN WE SPENT THAT NIGHT IN THE ABORIGINAL VILLAGE IN EASTERN TAIWAN, AND I SAW THE COMMITMENT OF THOSE ABORIGINAL CHRISTIANS, I KNEW WHEN I RETURNED HOME THAT I NEEDED TO STEP UP AND RESPOND TO GOD’S LOVE. CLIMBING THE TREE OF OPPORUNITY.

                IN 2009 I RETURNED TO THE U.S. FOR A PERIOD OF TIME. AND I REALLY MISSED TAIWANESE FRUIT. TAIWAN IS A TROPICAL COUNTRY WITH A WONDERFUL VAREITY OF FRESH FRUIT. I ESPECIALLY MISSED THE SWEET PERSIMMON WHICH WE EAT IN THE FALL. SO WHEN I VISITED A TAIWANESE-AMERICAN FAMILY IN NORTH CAROLINA, AND THEY OFFERED ME A FRESH PERSIMMON, I WAS VERY CURIOUS TO KNOW WHERE THEY HAD GOTTEN IT. AND THAT FRIEND TOLD ME A STORY. ANOTHER TAIWANESE-AMERICAN HAD TWO PERSIMMON TREES IN NORTH CAROLINA. HE GAVE ONE TO MY FRIEND AND ONE TO ANOTHER FRIEND. MY FRIEND REALLY CARED FOR HIS PERSIMMON TREE. JUST AS THE FRUIT WOULD GET RIPE, HE WOULD PICK IT AND PUT IN ON HIS KITCHEN WINDOWSILL. HE DIDN’T ALLOW ANY OF THE FRUIT TO FALL TO THE GROUND.

                NOW MOST AMERICAN SQUIRRELS HAVE NEVER EATEN PERSIMMON. IT’S NOT A NATIVE FRUIT, AT LEAST IN NORTH CAROLINA, SO THESE SQUIRRELS WOULD RUN TO AND FRO UNDERNEATH MY FRIEND’S PERSIMMON TREE AND NEVER LOOKED UP AT THOSE SWEET, JUICY PERSIMMONS. THEY NEVER CLIMBED THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY.

                BUT THE SECOND TAIWANESE-AMERICAN WHO HAD RECEIVED THE PERSIMMON TREE DID NOT CARE FOR HIS TREE OR FRUIT. HIS PERSIMMONS WOULD FALL TO THE GROUND WHERE A SQUIRREL DECIDED TO TAKE A BITE. AND THAT SQUIRREL DISCOVERED THAT PERSIMMONS ARE VERY TASTY. SO THE SECOND TAIWANESE-AMERICAN HAD NO PERSIMMONS, BECAUSE THE SQUIRRELS IN HIS BACKYARD CLIMBED THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY.

                THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY STANDS RIGHT BEFORE US. LET US CLIMB UP AND TASTE GRACE.

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