paul andrew skidmoreparabolos

cinematic storytelling, strategy, and advice

selections from “Becoming the Sycamore Tree”

photo by Ian W. Scott.

Becoming the Sycamore Tree

by David Skidmore, my brother.

as featured in Youth Specialties.

“At my church, we have a private preschool and kindergarten. In the nearby church courtyard is a playground. And on that playground is an off-limits tree. A big tree. A tempting tree. I mean, this is a Mount-Everest-of-a-tree to little, exploring eyes. It’s as though God chose a playground and placed a tree in the middle and declared, “On every other structure thou mayest climb, but on this tree thou mayest not climb, for on the day when thou dost, thou shalt surely… be placed in time-out… or something.”

Eventually a red line was painted above the second limb from the ground. The children were free to climb to that line, but everything above was forbidden territory. And ‘Mrs. Wanda’ (as the kids call her) guards that tree with a watchful eye that would impress an angel wielding a flaming sword.

But after hours — figuring Mrs. Wanda and her whistle have departed for wherever kindergarten teachers go until 8 a.m. the next day — some kids do climb above the red line. There’s something about that tree that beckons, ‘Come… and climb!’ to every adventurer.

What makes it tough is that those who’ve boldly gone where no child has gone before tell other children about the view. During recess they proudly (albeit quietly) boast to those content with hop-scotch, ‘I have been to the promised land… and from it you can see over the fence of the playground!’

What they’ve seen ‘up there’ is amazing — much more so than the mundane sandbox.

Each morning I see that tree when I go to my office. Every day I see wee little people looking up, peering through its branches in awe. And I’m reminded that what they seek is a viewpoint so very different from their own. But without the tree, their quest is impossible—and their song is not as much fun to sing.”


“Luke records that when ‘Jesus reached the spot,’ He calls to Zacchaeus to come down. Jesus doesn’t stumble upon the tree. He doesn’t follow the crowd’s jeers and pointing fingers to find a stranger out on a limb. This meeting is no accident. He goes ‘to the spot’ as though it’s His destination that day—not some comical interruption preceding an important public appearance.

Jesus’ search for Zacchaeus is far more noteworthy than Zacchaeus’ attempt to catch a glimpse of the Christ. The story is not about a seeking tax collector, but about a seeking Savior.

Imagine the houses that had been cleaned that day in hopes that Jesus would invite Himself there for the evening. City leaders, prominent dignitaries, wealthy landowners—all certain they had it ‘together’ enough that Jesus would choose them as dinner companions.

Jesus, however, made His reservation before He ever arrived in town. Others wanted to be seen with Jesus, but this day will forever be remembered because one man wanted to be seen by Jesus…”


“How do I measure the success of my ministry?

If it’s only through numbers or pats on the back, the lost are seldom sought or saved. If what I want to hear is, ‘I enjoyed the retreat,’ ‘Great class!’ or ‘Good pizza,’ then salvation will not likely come to the homes of those I serve.

But — as a sycamore tree — I long to hear teens say, ‘I see Him, and I know He sees me.’ “

read the whole thing.


skidmore | administrator

believer. follower. filmmaker.

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