Climbing; always climbing

Have you ever climbed a tree for Jesus?

Our Gospel (Luke 19:1-10) for Nov. 3 recounted the story of Zaccheus, the height-challenged tax collector who climbed a tree so he could see Jesus, who was passing through Jericho. Jesus called the tax collector down from the branches and stayed at his home … “the house of a sinner” according to at least some in the crowd. Jesus ultimately told those who were willing to listen that he had “come to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

I confess that I have never climbed a tree for Jesus – but I have climbed Dunbar’s Knob in Fayette County, Pennsylvania – my home county – to revel in the view from the foot of the “Great Cross of Christ.” The steel cross is 60 feet tall, and its arms are 33 feet wide – not a coincidence, I suspect. It has been standing at the top of the knob – 2,485 feet above sea level – on the property of the (Methodist) Jumonville Camp and Retreat Center – since 1950.

I could never look to the east from the home I grew up in without seeing the Cross – even at night, when spotlights bathe it in sun-like radiance.

Getting to the cross involves quite a climb. I suspect Zaccheus may have been challenged to get up that tree for a look at our Lord. Many visitors are challenged with the climb up the Dunbar’s Knob to the foot of the cross.

What a metaphor.

Think about it. Every day, aren’t we all continuing our climb to the foot of THE Cross? We do it because we know that, from there and for eternity, we will see things beyond our comprehension.

Up on Dunbar’s Knob, visitors looking to the west can see seven counties in three states – an area of roughly 50 miles. I remember how awesome that was the first time I climbed to the cross as a youngster.

I can’t even imagine what we’ll behold from the foot of Jesus’ Cross when we meet Him in Heaven.

Like Upper Gulph Run, the little stream with native brook trout I wrote about recently, this Pennsylvania cross always comes to mind in the fall because we generally enjoy some of the clearest skies of the year. I have missed seeing it routinely since leaving home decades ago, but all I have to do is close my eyes to enjoy the vivid images Jesus has helped me retain.

If you’re interested, you can see it online at Be sure to read about its history and construction. Thousands of Sunday School students across southwestern Pennsylvania contributed dimes to the construction fund; those were the days when a dime really had value. The plaque at the base of the cross notes that all their names – thousands of them – are sealed in the concrete base of the cross.

Imagine that … an eternity at the foot of the cross. Isn’t that what we keep climbing toward?