I'm not a huge fan of large conferences. Maybe the reason is overexposure. You've heard how some people can develop an adverse reaction to something due to overexposure to it? Maybe I developed an adverse reaction to conferences from overexposure during our years in denominational leadership. I attended more conferences than I can count. It was then that I became well aware of the fact that individuals with hungry hearts and desperate needs can be easily overlooked in a crowd.
My personality type plays into this aversion as well. I come across as an extrovert, but am really an introvert "in disguise". "It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extroverted types, but they would all do well to remember that INFJs need time alone to decompress and recharge, and to not become too alarmed when they suddenly withdraw." (quote from 16personalities.com) That is why whenever I play a part in planning a retreat or conference I always include time alone to pray, read the Bible and journal into the schedule, as well as free time so people can connect and spend time with one another in smaller groups.
This doesn't mean that God hasn't used large gatherings to speak to me and to touch my life. He has. But, more often than not, I find the crowd a distraction from personally encountering Jesus. Zacchaeus had that problem as well. He wanted to see Jesus, to see what all the hubbub about this Man was. He'd heard the claims about Jesus, but he wanted to see Him for himself. He had the desire to know more about Jesus, but he couldn't see Him because of the crowd.
Zacchaeus didn't give in to a victim mentality. Sure his shortness of stature was a hindrance to his ability to see Jesus in the midst of the throngs of people, but he didn't just give up, go home, and throw himself a pity party. Instead, he took action. He climbed right on up the nearest sycamore tree so he would have a bird's eye view when the Messiah passed by.
I love Jesus's response to Zacchaeus. He wasn't just another face in the crowd to Him. And neither are you. Jesus saw Zacchaeus and invited Himself over to his house. Isn't that just like Jesus? Do you realize that He is perpetually knocking on the door of your heart and your home, too? He sees YOU and He wants to spend time with you. He's persistently inviting Himself over, persistently knocking at the door.
Zacchaeus had a decision to make, but he didn't waste any time dilly dallying or weighing the pros and cons. The Bible says that he made haste, came down, and received Jesus joyfully. I love that. Zacchaeus received Jesus joyfully and his life was changed forever.
Reading this passage from Luke 19 along with thousands of other women who use shereadstruth.com as part of their daily devotional time, I was touched in a new way with a story that I've been familiar with since I was a little girl with blonde curls sitting in Sunday School. Like Zacchaeus, God sees our desire to see Him and to know Him. The minute we take action on that desire, He responds. Our action might be a three word prayer, "God I need you", or it might be as simple as opening your Bible and journal in spite of the fact that the laundry basket is overflowing, the breakfast dishes are still on the table, and the baby smells like he needs a bath. It might even be signing up for a conference, just hoping that somehow, someway, in the midst of the crowd you will catch a glimpse of Jesus. The good news is, when we put turn our desire into an action Jesus responds. He's invited Himself over, He's knocking, we just have to open the door. Like Zacchaeus, let's make haste and receive Him joyfully.